Skip to main content

Apple   (AAPL) - Get Apple Inc. Report shares traded sharply lower Monday after analysts at HSBC cut their price target on the tech giant amid concerns that potential tariffs on imports from China could force it to pass on increased iPhone costs to U.S. consumers.

HSBC analyst Nicolas Cote-Colisson lowered his price target to $174 from $180, citing both the potential tariffs and renewed concerns over China's near-term growth prospects, given Apple's reliance on the world's largest economy for around a fifth of its revenues. 

Apple shares were down 3.4% to $182.50 in trading Monday, a move that extends the stock's decline to about 15% since President Donald Trump first threatened to increase tariffs on China-made goods to 25% on May 5.

Scroll to Continue

TheStreet Recommends

Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty suggested a further round of tariffs, which increase the cost of goods from everything from furniture and toys to washing machines and consumer electronics and are being studied by the White House, could boost the price of an iPhone by $160. Apple will then have to chose whether to pass that increase onto consumers in its biggest market or swallow the costs and slash its 2020 earnings forecast.

"Apple has one of the most significant exposures to Chinese exports to the U.S, given final assembly for many of its consumer devices is located in China," Huberty wrote, adding that shifting production from the world's second-largest economy would be "largely inconceivable and would require heavy investment in robotics and automation" from Apple given that China is "one of the only countries that can provide such a large and low-cost labor force with the expertise in manufacturing and tooling that is required".

Data from the International Trade Center shows that $45 billion worth of mobile phones were imported from China into the United States last year, and Trump himself raised the issue of Apple-focused tariffs back in September.

A recent analysis from IHS Markit estimated that the factory cost of an iPhone 7, which is assembled in China but uses components from various countries including South Korea, Japan and Taiwan, is about $237, a figure that is then used by U.S. customs officials when they are calculating trade activity with China.

However, the U.S. contribution to the construction of an iPhone is around $69, compared to the China-based contribution of around $8.50, meaning tariffs based on the import of an iPhone would hit both U.S. companies and U.S. consumers harder than they would those in China.