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Apple Suppliers Expect Up to 18% Drop in iPhone Orders This Quarter

Foxconn, Apple's key supplier, also reportedly is planning to move forward with production of 5G iPhones this summer.
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Apple's  (AAPL) - Get Apple Inc. Report key factories in China are getting back to business but iPhone suppliers anticipate a steep drop in demand for phones this quarter. 

One major assembler told Reuters that Apple orders for the quarter ending in March will fall 18% year over year, while another supplier of iPhone display units is preparing for a similar orders drop of 18%.

Apple shares were up 2.12% on Monday to $252.99.

Other signs point to improving conditions in Apple's supply chain but an uncertain demand outlook as the coronavirus spreads in the U.S. and Europe, Apple's two largest sales markets. 

Apple's retail stores outside of China were closed "until further notice" earlier this month. 

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In a recent report, Moody's forecast that demand erosion in Western markets will likely last into next quarter, and potentially beyond that, given the "significant uncertainty" in the length and severity of the coronavirus outbreak. 

Wavering demand has sparked speculation that Apple could delay the September launch of its all-important 5G iPhone. According to Nikkei Asian Review, Apple executives are closely following the outbreak and weighing the demand outlook over the coming months. 

Foxconn, Apple's largest manufacturing partner, reportedly is planning to move forward with summertime mass production of the 5G iPhones. But other products may be delayed, Bloomberg wrote on Monday. 

Any delay in the launch of Apple's 5G iPhone likely would have significant implications for its stock in 2020. The 5G phone had been widely expected to reinvigorate iPhone demand, which has trended downward in recent years. 

In a recent note, Wedbush analyst Dan Ives - an Apple bull under normal circumstances - lowered estimates for Apple's fiscal 2020 revenue by 14%, and its 12-month price target for the stock to $335, based on sinking global demand and the possibility of a delay in launching the 5G phone.