Apple shares were falling 5% to $193.71 Monday afternoon, as the broader U.S. market also tumbled on fears of rising trade conflict between the U.S. and China. Apple shares have slumped almost 11% since President Trump first tweeted on Aug. 1 that he planned to place 10% tariffs on an additional $300 billion worth of Chinese goods, including smartphones, apparel and other consumer goods, after little progress had been made on trade talks.
Trump's tweets last week "brought back a dark cloud over Cupertino," wrote Wedbush Securities analyst Dan Ives in a note on Friday. "If fully absorbed this tariff would negatively impact fiscal year 2020 EPS by roughly 4% and be a clear overhang on numbers," Ives said. But "if Apple passes through the 10% tariff to consumers we could see a hit to iPhone demand by roughly 6 million to 8 million iPhones in the US based on our analysis over the next 12 months based on our overall unit forecast of 185 million iPhones globally for fiscal year 2020."
Trump later indicated that the tariffs, planned to go into effect on Sept. 1, could be as high as 25%.
Ives stopped short of estimating the EPS impact if Apple opted to raise prices for consumers, but Cowen analyst Krish Sankar in a Monday note broke down the potential EPS impact of four main scenarios:
Scenario #1: Trump enacts a 10% tariff, which Apple absorbs without raising prices.
"We forecast total EPS impact of $0.60 or 4% of fiscal year 2020E EPS if Apple absorbs the 10% tariff cost itself across the major hardware product categories and assuming the tariff stays constant throughout the year."
Scenario #2: Trump enacts a 25% tariff, which Apple absorbs without raising prices.
"Total EPS impact of $1.51 or 11% of FY20E EPS assuming a constant 25% tariff and Apple absorbs the full cost itself."
Scenario #3: The president enacts 10% tariffs that Apple passes along to the consumer via higher prices.
"We estimate an EPS impact range of $0.09-0.38 assuming the 10% tariff costs are passed along to consumers with 5-20% unit demand destruction. We estimate the iPhone would have the largest EPS impact at 0.5%-2% of total company earnings, followed by sub-1% each for iPad, Mac, and Watch."
Scenario #4: Trump imposes 25% tariffs that Apple passes along to consumers.
"We estimate an EPS impact range of $0.19-0.76 assuming the 25% tariff costs are passed along to consumers with 10-40% unit demand destruction. We estimate the iPhone would have the largest EPS impact at 1-4% of total company earnings, followed by sub-1% each for iPad, Mac, and Watch."
Analysts polled by FactSet are looking for 2020 EPS of $14.09. Should that earnings number fall by 11%, Sankar's worst-case scenario of a 25% tariff that Apple absorbs, Apple shares could drop to roughly $174, assuming they're able to maintain the current multiple of about 14.
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