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Xi Jinping and Tim Cook Associated Press
Apple is facing a growing shortage of iPhones amid protests in China over the government's zero-COVID lockdown policy.
The company has reported a market value of $114 billion since its deletion last week amid concerns about weak holiday sales.
Wedbush analyst Dan Ives estimated Apple could see a 10% drop in iPhone sales this quarter.
Apple's market value has fallen $114 billion since last Wednesday, as investors grew concerned about the ongoing iPhone shortage and the impact on the company's typically strong holiday results.
Apple has faced shortages of its iPhone 14 Pro models in recent weeks, but the shortage of iPhone offerings has become even more pronounced amid protests in China over the government's zero-COVID lockdown policy.
China continues to pursue a zero-COVID policy, where even a few reported infections could trigger a complete lockdown of an entire city. In the meantime, the country has yet to roll out COVID-19 vaccines as effective as those made by Pfizer and Moderna.
In October, a COVID outbreak at a Foxconn iPhone assembly plant in Zhengzhou caused many employees to leave "iPhone City" to bypass strict lockdown procedures. Violent protests erupted at Foxconn's iPhone factory last week due to its strict lockdown policies.
Civil unrest and protests against the COVID lockdown policies are now spreading across the country, with a recent apartment fire that killed 10 people escalating public outcry against the government, which has been blamed on restrictive COVID policies.
The situation in China is bearish for Apple as it limits its ability to capitalize on what was historically the strongest quarter of the year. Planned delivery times for all versions of its popular iPhone 14 Pro model are being pushed back until after Christmas, December 28, according to its website. The cheaper iPhone 14 models are available immediately right now.
Apple is "extremely limited in what it can do," according to Wedbush analyst Dan Ives, because it relies heavily on China to manufacture a majority of its devices. Ives estimated the protests in China could cut Apple's iPhone sales by as much as 10% this quarter. This could result in a shortfall of 6 million iPhone Pro units, according to a Bloomberg report.
“The zero China-COVID policy was an absolute blow to Apple's supply chain, with the Foxconn protests in Zhengzhou a black eye for both Apple and Foxconn. The reality is that Apple is … at the mercy of China's zero-Covid policy, which remains a very frustrating situation," Ives said Apple looks to ease some iPhone shortages building up around the world.”
However, a surge in iPhone production is dependent on both a de-escalation of protests in China and a reduction in COVID-19 cases, and that seems increasingly difficult, according to Goldman Sachs.
"Local governments are struggling to find a balance between quickly containing the spread of the virus and complying with the '20 Measures', which mandate a more targeted approach. The central government may soon have to choose between more lockdowns and more Covid outbreaks," Goldman Sachs' Hui Shan wrote in a Sunday note.
And Apple may not be able to end its tenuous relationship with China any time soon, even considering its recent moves to diversify production into other countries like Vietnam and India. In a note earlier this month, Bank of America said it will take Apple many years to diversify a significant portion of its manufacturing exposure away from China.
“We do not expect a rapid decoupling from China any time soon. In our opinion, there needs to be a much higher focus on system on chip and more modular design/automated assembly, which we don't expect anytime soon. The presence of a significant portion of the supplier base in China also increases the complexity of shifting away from China," BofA said.
While Wedbush maintains its "Outperform" rating and price target of $200, Bank of America is taking a more cautious approach with a "Neutral" rating and a price target of $154. Apple shares fell more than 2% to $144.86 on Monday.
Read the original article on Business Insider

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