Apple store closings in China could impact 1 million iPhone sales

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Apple staff (red t-shirt) and a customer (R) wearing protective facemasks are seen inside of an Apple store in Beijing on January 30, 2020


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Apple’s decision to temporarily shutter its stores in China as a result of the new coronavirus could delay up to 1 million iPhone sales but is unlikely to have a substantial impact on the company’s revenue, analysts at Wedbush Securities said Saturday.

“We believe with the limited transportation in major cities throughout China and limited foot traffic in Shanghai, Beijing, and other cities that at most ~1 mm iPhones in the region could be at risk of shifting out of the March quarter into the June quarter if this continues into late February,” analysts Daniel Ives and Strecker Backe wrote.

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Ives and Backe said that the sum represented less than 3% of annual Chinese iPhone sales and that the impact would likely be neglible.

Apple said earlier in the day that out of “an abundance of caution and based on the latest advice from leading health experts” it would close its stores on the country’s mainland until Feb. 9.

The company reported blowout earnings on Tuesday but issued guidance with a wider range than is typical, which CEO Tim Cook attributed to uncertainty around the new flu-like infection. The company has broad exposure to the Chinese consumer market and relies on the country for a majority of its manufacturing.

Ives and Backe wrote that the effect of the outbreak on the company’s shares was mitigated because Apple did not roll out major sales around the Chinese New Year, which took place Jan. 25.

“While the coronavirus outbreak is a sad situation and concerning headline for investors, for the stock we believe the fundamental impact from this issue to Apple’s top-line is negligible especially as this year there were no major price cuts or last minute sales around the Chinese New Year, which we have seen in prior years to spur sales in the key region,” they wrote.

The company reported revenue of $91.8 billion last quarter, beating its own estimates. Growth was fueled in large part by nearly $56 billion in iPhone sales, even as the company missed estimates for services revenue.

Nearly 12,000 cases of coronavirus have been reported globally and the death toll from the virus reached 259 by Saturday morning. Many businesses with footprints in China have fully or partially suspended operations in the country and restricted employees from traveling there.

President Donald Trump on Friday declared that the new coronavirus was a public health emergency in the United States.

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