Apple shares fall on reports of cuts to iPhone parts orders

Mon Jan 14, 2013 9:33pm EST
 
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(Reuters) - Shares in Apple Inc dipped below $500 for the first time in almost one year after reports it is slashing orders for screens and other components from its Asian supplier as intensifying competition erodes demand for its latest iPhone.

Japan's Nikkei reported on Monday that the world's largest technology corporation began sharply reducing buying of liquid crystal displays about a month ago from suppliers like Japan Display Inc and Sharp Corp.

Sharp's stock dipped as much as 7 percent in early trading on Tuesday and shares in South Korean Apple suppliers such as LG Display also fell.

"We can't comment on individual clients," said Miyuki Nakayama, a spokeswoman for Sharp, which builds iPhone 5 screens at its Kameyama plant in central Japan. Japan Display, a state-run business formed from the small LCD units of Sony Corp, Toshiba Corp and Hitachi Ltd also declined to discuss its orders.

The Nikkei report, later matched by the Wall Street Journal, comes as hard-charging rivals like Samsung Electronics, which makes phones based on Google Inc's popular Android software, continue to expand market share globally.

Apple stock slid more than 4 percent to an intraday low of $498.51 -- a level not seen since February 16, 2012 -- before bouncing back to trade just above $500 at midday. The news also hurt shares of suppliers such as Cirrus Logic Inc, which dived 9 percent.

Some analysts argued that Apple and its manufacturing partners had struggled with quality issues that might have curtailed production times.

Dogged by low production yields, Sharp last year fell behind schedule for iPhone 5 screen shipments in the run-up to the phone's launch in September. Sharp has yet to acknowledge that Apple is a customer.

"Our checks with supply chain contacts close to the situation identified a very different cause: a slower ramp in the manufacturing of iPhones and iPads (reflecting some quality control issues) and insufficient production lines," said JoAnne Feeney of Longbow Research.   Continued...

 
A customer holds up an Apple iPhone 5 for the photographer during an exclusive sale by Belgian operator Mobistar in Brussels, in this file picture taken September 28, 2012. Apple Inc has almost halved its order with suppliers of LCD panels for the iPhone 5 in the current quarter due to weak demand, the Nikkei reported on January 14, 2013. REUTERS/Yves Herman/Files