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Apple makes shock sales warning as US-China trade war hits

11 January 2019

That would have represented revenue growth of as much as 5 per cent from the same period the year before.

"While Apple anticipated some challenges in key emerging markets, it did not foresee the magnitude of the economic deceleration, particularly in Greater China", said Cook. According to Cook, all of those factors (plus some others) resulted in fewer iPhone upgrades than expected. Apple's problems in China may continue deep into 2019.

The world's second largest economy, China is feeling the effects of a darkening trade outlook and government attempts to rein in risky lending after a rapid rise in debt levels.

The price gap is one reason Huawei surpassed Apple in smartphone sales from April through September previous year to seize the number two spot behind industry leader Samsung, according to the research firm International Data Corp.

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In the USA, the benchmark S&P 500 stock index dropped as much as 1pc after data showed Chinese factory activity contracting for the first time in more than two years, though the index clawed back the losses later in the session.

The ongoing US-China trade spat has also played its part in driving down Apple sales in the country, Cook stated, citing "the climate of mounting uncertainty" over the back-and-forth between Washington and Beijing.

Wedbush Securities analyst Daniel Ives described it as "Apple's darkest day during the Cook era", saying: "No one expected China to just fall off a cliff like this".

Cook also said in the letter that fewer carrier subsidies, price increases based on the strength of the US dollar and cheaper battery replacements caused the weak iPhone upgrades for the quarter.

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"Customer's existing phone acts as a subsidy for their new phone, and it is great for developers, as it can help grow our installed base". Furthermore, Cook conceded that the revenue from iPhone sales was lower than anticipated.

Speaking of the rest of Apple, Cook did state other areas of the company are gearing up to see record profits, with some reaching near a 19 percent increase year-over-year.

Apple predicts quarterly gross margin of 38% and operating expenses of $8.7 billion. Wearables grew by nearly 50 percent year-over-year, thanks to holiday sales of the Apple Watch and AirPods.

"Our non-iPhone businesses have less exposure to emerging markets", he wrote.

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Apple makes shock sales warning as US-China trade war hits