Shares of Apple (AAPL - Free Report) declined about 1% on Jun 8 thanks to reports that the tech giant is likely to ship fewer iPhones in the second half of 2018. Apple has reportedly told its supply chain to manufacture about 20% lesser (compared with 2017’s orders) components for iPhones slated to be unveiled in the second half of this year, per Nikkei. Apple is expected to launch three new iPhones this year, expected to be shipped in September.
With this, Apple is preparing for 80 million iPhone shipments this year. However, Apple did not respond to this news. The news reinforces the forecast that global demand for smartphone is waning. In April, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd (TSM - Free Report) , the world’s one of biggest contract chipmakers, cut its full-year revenue target to the low end of its prior guidance thanks to “softer demand for smartphones and uncertainty in the cryptocurrency mining market.”
Notably, TSMC makes chips for tech biggies like Apple. That time, TSMC also mentioned that there were order cuts from the current Apple iPhone X processor. The company pointed to the prevailing feeble demand from the high-end mobile sector.
Other Evidences of Softening Smartphone Demand
IMF said that the smartphone-driven tech cycle had probably topped in late 2015. And now saturation in demand in developed markets and lengthening of upgrade cycles are weighing on overall smartphone sales.
On a year-over-year basis, Apple logged a decline (5%) in iPhone sales in the fourth quarter of 2017 and Samsung saw a unit decline of 3.6%. IMF even noted that China’s domestic smartphone market shrunk for the first time in 2017.
According to research company IDC, the global smartphone shipment rate fell 0.3% in 2017, marking the first-ever retreat in the industry. The decline in China's smartphone shipments mainly pulled back the overall industry. IDC expects worldwide smartphone shipments to decrease even this year but India is expected to help the space recover in 2019.
Below we highlight a few ETF areas that may be troubled if iPhone shipments decline or any kind of delay or production quality issues are noticed in the launches. Last year, Apple faced these issues that kept iPhone X from coming online until November.
ETFs which have a considerable exposure to Apple may thus underperform. These funds include iShares U.S. Technology ETF (IYW - Free Report) ) Select Sector SPDR Technology ETF (XLK - Free Report) and Vanguard Information Technology ETF (VGT - Free Report) (see all Technology ETFs here).
Apple’s suppliers meaning several semiconductors companies should feel the brunt of it. One of its suppliers, AMS AG, saw share prices being hurt by the news. Other European semiconductor stocks including Dialog Semiconductor, STMicroelectronics and Infineon Technologies all nosedived after Nikkei’s report, per the source (read: 5 Reason Why FANG ETFs Lost Their Charm in March).
VanEck Vectors Semiconductor ETF (SMH - Free Report) , iShares PHLX Semiconductor ETF (SOXX - Free Report) and PowerShares Dynamic Semiconductors ETF (PSI - Free Report) are likely to be pressured, if the news comes true.
Who can forget the pure-play smartphone ETF, First Trust Nasdaq Smartphone Index Fund (FONE - Free Report) ? This comes at the forefront due to fading smartphone demand.
The fate of pure-play Taiwan ETF, iShares MSCI Taiwan ETF (EWT - Free Report) , is often related to Apple. This is because the fund puts heavy weights in Apple’s suppliers like TSMC and Hon Hai Precision.
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