Shares in Apple slump on sales forecast cut

Written by Hannah McGrath

Shares in Apple plummeted by 7.7 per cent after the company issued a revenue guidance warning, knocking its market value below $700 billion and dragging down tech stocks across the sector.

The iPhone producer’s revised sales guidance, predicting revenue of around $84 billion (£67 billion) for the three months to December, is the first time it has felt the need to preface its quarterly results since the introduction of the iPhone in 2007.

The revised figure is lower than the sales forecast of $89 billion issued in November, a figure which dampened shareholder expectations and consolidated a 28 per cent slump in the company’s share price at the end of last year.

Apple’s chief executive Tim Cook said the projected slowdown in sales was due to a tail off in consumers upgrading their iPhones and a weakening of sales in China following increased trade tensions with the U.S combined with slowing economic growth.

The Greater China region, which includes China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, has accounted for 20 per cent of Apple’s revenue in recent years, but the company has seen demand for products weaken.

In a letter to investors Cook wrote “While we anticipated some challenges in key emerging markets, we did not foresee the magnitude of the economic deceleration, particularly in Greater China.”

It went on: "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."

Apple has has grown exponentially over the past decade as it expanded its range of smartphones, iPads, Apple Watch and other products, leading to the company becoming the first to be valued at $1 trillion in August 2018.

However, following yesterday's revenue guidance, analysts pointed to rapid consolidation in the market for smart phones and devices, with consumers less eager to upgrade their smartphones as where new models offer fewer new features.

In the letter to investors Cook explained that Apple was endeavouring to make it easier for customers to trade in their phones and said other parts of the business, including services, continued to perform strongly.

"While it's disappointing to revise our guidance, our performance in many areas showed remarkable strength in spite of these challenges," he added.