Qualcomm (QCOM) shares slumped in premarket trading Friday after the group escalated its dispute with Apple (AAPL) with three new patent infringement filings against linked to batteries in its iPhone and tech sector shares around the world continue to face market pressure.
Qualcomm filed the latest complaints with the U.S. District Court in San Diego, as well as a parallel request for relief from the U.S. International Trade Commission and a request to ban the sale of iPhones sold with Intel Inc.-made chips.
Qualcomm shares were marked 3.25% lower in premarket trading in New York with an indicated opening price of $64.19 each, a move that would trim their three-month gain to around 23%. Apple shares were indicated around 0.9% lower with an opening bid of $170.30 each.
Chip-sector shares were also active in European trading, with Germany's Infineon AG falling 3.5% to the bottom of the DAX performance index and ST Microelectronics NV slumping 2.7% to change hands at €18.52 each.
The sector has been under pressure for most of this week following the biggest single-day decline in more than a year for Samsung Electronics Co. (SSNLF) shares Monday after analysts at Morgan Stanley cut its rating on the world's biggest chipmaker amid concerns that a so-called "super-cycle" in prices could be coming to an end.
Morgan Stanley reduced its rating on the tech giant to 'equal weight' from 'overweight' and cautioned that the memory chip sector's so-called "super cycle" is close to peaking, noting "downside risk as NAND prices have started to reverse" and "visibility on DRAM supply-demand dynamics has reduced" into next year.
Curiously, Morgan Stanley's late Sunday downgrade followed data from South Korea's Chaebul.com, a corporate analytics firm, which showed that collective profits for South Korea's ten biggest companies hit a record $57.5 billion over the first nine months of the year, driven in large part by booming bottom lines at Samsung and Hynix. Industry website semi.org suggests worldwide chip sales will top $400 billion this year.
Earlier this week, Apple filed a countersuit against Qualcomm in the same San Diego court, accusing the chipmaker of infringing upon its patents. The filings extend a long-running battle between the two companies that took on new life in July when Qualcomm filed complaints in both U.S. District Court and the ITC, arguing Apple had allegedly infringed on six of its patents that improve iPhone performance and battery life, and wants it to pay damages.
Apple says it holds at least eight battery life patents that Qualcomm has violated, and argues that Qualcomm's Snapdragon 800 and 820 processors infringe on those patents.
"Apple began seeking those patents years before Qualcomm began seeking the patents it asserts against Apple in this case," the iPhone maker's complaint said. Apple is seeking unspecified damages from Qualcomm.