Apple says COVID-19 disruptions and silicon shortages are hitting its business, though seemingly not as much as some other tech giants.
At nearly 15 years old, Apple’s iPhone is one of the most popular consumer products of all time. During the holidays, it helped Apple ring up record revenues and profits. And even now, with war overseas and nagging inflation at home, Apple’s fortunes are still largely tied to the iPhone.
The good news: People still keep buying them.
For its second fiscal quarter, covering the three months ending in March, Apple notched $50.6 billion in sales of iPhones, up more than 5% from the year prior. Its Mac computers, wearables and accessories continued to sell strongly as well.
But Apple warned that manufacturing and trade disruptions from COVID-19, combined with the ongoing silicon shortage, means things will likely get worse over the next few months.
“These times remind us that we cannot know what the future may hold,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said during a conference call with analysts Thursday. COVID disruptions, he noted, have been difficult to predict. He noted that disruptions from recent health lockdowns in China, among other issues, will add up to between $4 billion and $8 billion in unsold products because of lack of inventory. And that’s “substantially worse” than what happened over the past three months.
Apple’s stock closed regular trading up nearly 5% to $163.64 per share. The company’s shares have fallen about 10% so far this year.
Apple’s announcement is the latest sign of the tech giant’s staying power in a time of economic uncertainty. Major Wall Street indexes have lost value this month, with notable drops among tech stocks. Google parent Alphabet reported lower than expected sales and profit Tuesday, disappointing investors. The next day, Facebook parent Meta reported widening losses in its Reality Labs division, which makes virtual reality headsets and other associated technologies. CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said he believes Reality Labs is key to the company’s future.
Other tech companies have released concerning data as well. Netflix told investors last week that it actually lost subscribers, and expected to lose 2 million more. And Amazon on Thursday said fuel prices ate into its profits.
More broadly, Russia’s invasion of and subsequent war with Ukraine has rippled across the world, rattling markets for oil, wheat and other items that both countries contribute to the world economy. Meanwhile, surging COVID-19 cases in China have prompted extended lockdowns in manufacturing facilities and at ports, disrupting food supplies and upsetting residents, leading to slowed manufacturing and trade.
Apple, though, continues to navigate those challenges enough to continue growing its business.