You don't get to $1 trillion without taking a few risks ...
Apple Inc. (AAPL) - Get Report may have topped the $1 trillion mark this week, cementing its position as the world's most valuable and influential tech company, but its rivals aren't ready to capitulate just yet, with China's Huawei Technologies Co Ltd. vowing Friday to become the world's biggest smartphone maker despite its virtual exclusion from the U.S. market.
In fact, Huawei could represent a key risk to Apple's $1 trillion valuation and its future earnings potential as trade tensions between Washington and China continues to escalate, and the fortunes of the world's second-largest economy continue to fade.
"I think it's no problem that we become the global number two leader next year," CEO Richard Yu told reporters Friday as the company posted fresh full-year shipment forecasts that aim to move 200 million units in 2018. "In (the fourth quarter of) next year, it's possible we become Number one."
Huawei, which has already overtaken Apple as the world's second largest smartphone maker with a 15.7% market share according to data from IHS Markit and Strategy Analytics, shifted 95 million units so far this year and sees its full-year growth rate at 31%.
Other China manufacturers in the smartphone space are moving from their "low cost" reputation to the higher-end of the global market, especially as demand wanes. Oppo, for example, China's second-largest handset maker, unveiled a €999 ($1,320) unit called the FindX while its domestic rival, Vivo, is marketing a $780 smartphone called the Nex.
Apple's China revenue rose 19% in its last fiscal quarter, the company said earlier this week, as record iPad sales and the company's 50th retail store in Mainland China pushed overall revenues to $9.55 billion and now represents around a fifth of its global sales.
Huawei has had deals with Google parent Alphabet Inc. (GOOGL) - Get Report and AT&T Inc. (T) - Get Report fall apart in recent months amid concerns from U.S. lawmakers that it facilitates spying by the Chinese government. Fresh sanctions on the world's biggest telecoms equipment maker could trigger reprisals from Beijing on Apple, which has courted controversy by using a Taiwan-based company, Foxconn, to assemble its iPhones.
Alphabet is a holding in Action Alerts PLUS.
That prospect appears to have grown more likely over the recent weeks, with President Donald Trump threatening to slap a 25% tariff on $200 billion worth of China-made goods and Beijing promising to react in kind with both "qualitative and quantitative" measures that suggest non-tariff responses.
China's stock market meltdown, which has hived more than 17% from the Shanghai Composite so far this year, and pushed the value of the country's stocks into third place behind the U.S. and Japan, could also elicit a more extreme response from government officials keen on preserving the strength of the domestic economy.
- Time for a Tesla Victory? Top Wall Street Analysts React to 2Q Earnings
- Using the Stock Market to Invest in the Future of Sneakers Could Prove Lucrative
"We're optimistic, as I've been the whole time, that this will get sorted out because there is an inescapable mutuality between the U.S. and China that sort of serves as a magnet to bring both countries together, that each country can only prosper if the other does and of course the world needs both U.S. and China to prosper for the world to do well," Apple CEO Tim Cook told investors on a conference call earlier this week. "That said, I can't predict the future, but I am optimistic that the countries will get through this and we are hoping that calm heads prevail."
He may be right, but the early signs aren't promising. Yum Brands China, which operates iconic American restaurants KFC and Pizza Hut on the mainland, posted much weaker-than-expected same store sales data for the second quarter this week, suggesting Chinese customers could be quietly avoiding U.S.-themed companies.
Apple shares were marked 0.39% lower in pre-market trading Friday, indicating an opening bell price of $206.68 each, a move that would still keep the company's market valuation over the $1 trillion mark but trim the stock's year-to-date gain to around 22.5%.