In the latest confirmation that earnings from Apple are set to disappoint, perhaps bigly, overnight, the world’s largest semiconductor producer, Taiwan Semiconductor, reported disappointing guidance, with management blaming a “very high-end smartphone” prompting renewed questions about the collapse in global iPhone demand.
The market wasted no time to price in the ongoing decline in demand for $1000+ iPhones and Taiwan Semi ADRs fell more than 5% in pre-market trading while Apple, Nvidia and AMD are all down ~2% in sympathy; this followed weakness in European chip stocks like AMS -3.7%, STMicro -2.2%, and Dialog Semi -1.9%.
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Needless to say, Apple is a behemoth in TSM’s P&L and accounted for over 20% of Taiwan Semi’s revenue in the fourth quarter of 2017, according to Bloomberg supply chain estimate.
Quoted by Bloomberg, JPMorgan analyst Gokul Hariharan said TSM’s 2Q forecast was very weak with the iPhone driving a lot of the softness; according to the bank’s estimates, TSM’s Apple-related revenues may plunge ~50% q/q in 2Q after a 30% drop in 1Q.
If this forecast is even remotely accurate, it paints a dire picture for iPhone demand around the globe, and suggests that the world’s infatuation with Apple products is rapidly waning.
This was echoed by Goldman analyst Donald Lu, who called TSM’s weak demand in 2018 “incrementally negative as Apple weakness persists.“
Reading through TSM’s earnings for Apple upcoming results which will be reported on May 1, Mizuho said it expects the Q3 revenue forecast to miss at the midpoint, and added that checks continue to point to iPhone X demand softness “in addition to an incremental downtick in 8/8 Plus procurement (which may not be baked into consensus).