November 12, 2018 / 3:55 PM / a month ago

Apple shares drop on iPhone suppliers' warnings

(Reuters) - Apple Inc (AAPL.O) shares fell to their lowest in more than three months on Monday as three suppliers issued warnings on results that pointed to weakness in iPhone sales.

Thailand's first flagship Apple store is seen at Iconsiam shopping mall in Bangkok, Thailand November 9, 2018. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun

The Cupertino, California company’s signature product has become pricier with every new launch and analysts say that consumers, especially in emerging markets such as India, are ditching them for cheaper alternatives like those offered by China’s OnePlus.

Apple warned earlier this month that holiday sales would miss Wall Street expectations, blaming the fall on weakness in emerging markets and foreign exchange costs.

Lumentum Holdings Inc (LITE.O), the main supplier of the Face ID technology in the latest generation of iPhones, cut $70 million off its forecasts for revenue on Monday, knocking another 5 percent, or around $50 billion, off Apple’s value in morning trade on Wall Street.

“Many suppliers have lowered numbers because of their unnamed ‘largest customer,’ which is Apple. Apple got cautious in their guidance and it’s hitting their suppliers,” Elazar Capital analyst Chaim Siegel said.

Lumentum blamed the cut in numbers it gave originally just 12 days ago on a client that was “one of our largest... for laser diodes for 3D sensing”, which analysts said could only be Apple.

Screen maker Japan Display Inc (6740.T) cited lower smartphone demand in cutting its own outlook, while British chipmaker IQE Plc (IQE.L) also said it expects a material reduction in its financial performance in the current year.

Shares in Lumentum fell nearly 31 percent, dragging down shares of other suppliers and chipmakers.

JP Morgan analysts weighed in by cutting their price target for Apple by $4 to $270 pointing to poor orders for the new iPhone XR.

Three analysts said that Lumentum’s forecast pointed to a reduction of 18 million to 20 million iPhones on earlier estimates, based on average selling prices for 3D sensing parts.

“Apple could have accumulated too much Lumentum inventory, and needs to work it off, in which case the unit shortfall is less, although it is still indicative of weak iPhone sales.” D.A. Davidson analyst Mark Kelleher said.

In the fourth quarter, Apple sold 46.9 million iPhones, missing analyst expectations of 47.5 million iPhones, according to FactSet.

Japan’s Nikkei reported earlier this month that Apple had told its smartphone assemblers Foxconn and Pegatron (4938.TW) to halt plans for additional production lines dedicated to the iPhone XR, the cheapest of this year’s new launches.

Longbow Research analysts said spot checks with Apple’s Taiwanese suppliers late last week highlighted 20 percent to 30 percent iPhone order cuts related mainly to iPhone XR and XS Max, and 20 percent to 25 percent order increases for older iPhone models.

Apple started selling iPhone XS and XS Max in September and XR model last month. Lumentum’s chips are not used in phones older than last year’s iPhone X.

Reporting by Vibhuti Sharma and Shanti S Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D'Silva and Patrick Graham

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