Sunday 25 February 2018

Fears of wider malaise at Apple as shares slide by 9pc

Peter Flanagan New Technology Correspondent

SHARES in Apple slid again yesterday as the company continued to struggle through what has been a tough week for the share price.

Is it a one-off event, though, or was this week's 9pc fall a sign of a wider malaise at the firm?

That's the question analysts have been desperately trying to answer but there is little doubt that the world's most valuable public company has lost some of its lustre.

The shares hit an all-time high of $702 two days after the iPhone 5 was launched last October.

That meant the company, worth close to $660bn, had overtaken ExxonMobil as the biggest public company on the planet.

It had what seemed to be an unassailable lead in the tablet market and sales of the new iPhone were set to shatter expectations.

Barely three months later, however, the company is under assault from all sides. The share price has fallen almost 25pc, wiping just over $150bn (€120bn) off the value of the company.

To put that figure into context, it is about equal to Ireland's total economic output, and around twice the value of the €64bn that bas been pumped into our banks since 2008.

Investors don't seem sure about the reasons for this collapse in value.

The iPhone 5 was criticised because its new charging socket rendered a myriad of iPhone accessories useless, but it has sold well.

The new iPad mini was slated for being overpriced but will probably sell out before Christmas.

Data flow

This week, however, the data flow was not good for Apple. New research found the firm was a lowly sixth in the huge Chinese phone market, where it has been beaten by cheaper domestic brands.

Then there were clear signs that its dominance in the tablet market is under threat. The latest projections from research firm IDC show Apple's share of that sector shrank again this year, from 56pc to 53pc, and the decline is unlikely to be arrested any time soon.

This is a far cry from just 2010, when market watchers felt the iPad could have the sort of dominance enjoyed by the iPod mp3 player.

More than 11 years after its launch, the iPod still makes up more than two- thirds of the mp3 player market.

On top of that, chief executive Tim Cook has had to deal with internal divisions, and a number of executives have left in recent months as Mr Cook stamps his authority on the business after Steve Jobs's death.

The picture overall for Apple is still good. Despite the fall, the share price is up 40pc this year.

That said though, there is a strong sense that Apple's days of shattering expectations are, for now at least, well and truly behind it.

Irish Independent

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