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Apple cuts forecast, citing weak China sales amid trade tensions

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(Reuters) – Apple Inc on Wednesday cut its sales forecast for its latest quarter, with Chief Executive Tim Cook blaming slowing iPhone sales in China, whose economy has been dragged down by uncertainty around U.S.-China trade relations.

People walk outside an Apple store in Beijing, China December 12, 2018. REUTERS/Jason Lee

The news sent Apple shares tumbling in after-hours trade and triggered a broader selloff in the stock market.

The revenue cut raises questions about whether Apple, the face of American business in many parts of the world, is being punished by Chinese officials or consumers in favor of local rivals such as Huawei Technology Cos Ltd, whose pricey smart phones compete with the iPhone and whose telecommunications equipment U.S. officials are considering banning.

Cook told CNBC that Apple products have not been targeted by the Chinese government, though some consumers may have elected not to buy an iPhone or other Apple device because it is an American company.

“The much larger issue is the slowing of the (Chinese) economy, and then the trade tension that has further pressured it,” Cook said.

Some analysts, however, questioned the impact of Apple’s own actions.

The company forecast $84 billion in revenue for its fiscal first quarter ended Dec. 29, which is below analysts’ estimate of $91.5 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv. Apple originally forecast revenue of between $89 billion and $93 billion.

“While we anticipated some challenges in key emerging markets, we did not foresee the magnitude of the economic deceleration, particularly in Greater China,” Cook said in a letter to investors. “In fact, most of our revenue shortfall to our guidance, and over 100 percent of our year-over-year worldwide revenue decline, occurred in Greater China across iPhone, Mac and iPad.”

Wednesday was the first time that Apple issued a warning on its revenue guidance ahead of releasing quarterly results since the iPhone was launched in 2007.

Apple shares, which had been halted ahead of the announcement, skidded 7.7 percent in after-hours trade, dragging the company’s market value below $700 billion. In the broader market, the S&P 500 futures fell 1.5 percent.

A slew of brokerages reduced their first-quarter production estimates for iPhones after several component makers in November forecast weaker-than-expected sales, leading some market watchers to call the peak for iPhones in several key markets.

On Apple’s earnings call in November, Cook cited slowing growth in emerging markets such as Brazil, India and Russia for the lower-than-anticipated sales estimates for the company’s fiscal first quarter. But Cook specifically said he “would not put China in that category” of countries with troubled growth.

That all came before the damage to the Chinese economy from trade tensions with the United States became clear. On Wednesday, China’s central bank magazine said the country’s economic growth could fall below 6.5 percent in the fourth quarter as companies face increased difficulties there.

Apple is now the highest-profile multinational corporation to warn that the economic slowdown in China could hurt its business. Automakers such as Ford Motor Co, Hyundai Motor Co and Nissan Motor Co all previously said they planned to cut production in the country.

Apple has held firm on its premium pricing strategy in China despite the risk of a slower economy, a factor that has been exacerbated by the strong U.S. dollar. Apple tends to set its prices in U.S. dollars and charge a broadly equivalent amount in local currencies.

“The question for investors will be the extent to which Apple’s aggressive pricing has exacerbated this situation and what this means for the company’s longer-term pricing power within its iPhone franchise,” James Cordwell, an analyst at Atlantic Equities, told Reuters.

Hal Eddins, chief economist at Apple shareholder Capital Investment Counsel, said Cook’s comments on how the U.S. trade tensions with China were hurting the company’s outlook “might be a dig at (U.S. President Donald) Trump, but mostly he may be using the trade turmoil as an excuse for some missteps they’ve made over the last year.”

FILE PHOTO: An Apple iphone 6 with Apple Pay is shown in this photo illustration in Encinitas , California June 3, 2015. REUTERS/Mike Blake

Other investors were not immediately alarmed.

In his letter, Cook said Apple has $130 billion in net cash and that it intends to continue its efforts to reduce that cash balance to net zero, which the company has so far accomplished through dividend increases and share buy backs.

“We would anticipate the company increasing share buybacks on the weakness to return capital to shareholders at discount prices,” said Trip Miller, managing partner at Apple shareholder Gullane Capital Partners.

Reporting by Stephen Nellis in San Francisco and Munsif Vengattil in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Joe White in Detroit; Editing by Leslie Adler

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Independent Consultant Beginner – 6 Should Have Pieces Of It Technology And Software

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Prima Wireless Earbuds Reviewhttps://primawirelessearbuds.net/.

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What Make Sure You Really Know Right Anyone Decide To Travel

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When traveling with children advised plan your route in advance. Do a little research and see as relevant and fun places to stop such as parks, museums or other attractions. Once you take breaks every non-chemical hours so everyone maybe even including the children probably get out and stretch their legs.

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Majority of Canadian workers willing to take less pay for a workplace pension plan: survey

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A majority (70 per cent) of Canadians say they’re willing to forgo a higher salary in exchange for a workplace pension plan, according to a new survey for the Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan by Abacus Data.

The survey, which polled more than 2,000 Canadian adults in April, signals an opportunity for employers to build back the post-coronavirus pandemic working landscape better by expanding access to good retirement plans — whether they’re defined benefit, defined contribution or group registered retirement savings plans, says Steven McCormick, senior vice-president of plan operations at the HOOPP.

According to the survey, a secure retirement remains of greater concern for Canadians than concerns about their health, debt load and job security. McCormick says this has been a consistent worry the HOOPP has seen in survey results over the past couple of years. Nearly half (48 per cent) of respondents said they’re very concerned about having enough money in retirement, while 31 per cent were highly concerned about their personal debt load and 26 per cent cited their job security. Close to half of respondents expressed high concerns for their physical (43 per cent) and mental (40 per cent) health.

In addition, the pandemic has harmed the finances of more than half (52 per cent) of Canadians’ surveyed and it’s had a particularly disproportionate affect on the finances of younger adults. Adults aged 44 and younger said they’re twice as likely (25 per cent) to have had their finances greatly harmed, compared to those over the age of 60 (12 per cent).

Generally, younger adults tend to work in roles that may have been impacted most by the pandemic, says McCormick, whether in service industries that were shut down or frontline health care that have been busy but don’t always come with access to a pension plan. “Affordability is an issue, so I think their worries increased during this time.”

And while almost half (46 per cent) of Canadians surveyed said they’ve saved more money than they would have since the onset of the pandemic, among these respondents, over half (52 per cent) didn’t put any of their savings toward their retirement. Overall, most (63 per cent) Canadians surveyed haven’t set aside or saved anything for retirement in the past year, a five-point increase since 2019.

McCormick says this may be due to uncertainty or hesitancy about whether people’s immediate needs outweigh longer-term needs. And with 55 per cent of respondents noting they were very concerned about the cost of day-to-day living, he adds that rising prices have fuelled insecurity and worries so people are creating their own emergency funds right now.

While there’s a segment of the population who’ve saved more and, for them, the pandemic has created wealth, he doesn’t see this as a common narrative in the survey data. “If you don’t have access to a workplace pension or the opportunity to have things like automatic enrolment, the uncertainty of the time may have you holding onto money,” says McCormick. “In Ontario, we’re more optimistic about the pandemic than we were maybe a month ago, but there are still people worrying about whether there’ll be a fourth wave.”

In addition, more than two-thirds (67 per cent) of respondents said a retirement crisis is looming and 65 per cent said saving for retirement is prohibitively expensive. It’s a common and shared dream for many people in looking forward to a secure retirement, says McCormick, noting for many, making that dream a reality remains elusive.

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