Apple, once the bell wether for the glitzy tech sector, is on the slide on the share market with its stock declining 2.4 per cent in overnight trade in the US.
Apple shares hit a two year low during the session with worries about falling iPhone sales and a lack of innovative new products weighing on investors’ spirits.
The funk in Apple shares sped up last month when it announced overall revenue was $US50.6 billion, down 12.8 percent on the $US58 billion made in Q2 2015; net income was $US10.5 billion, down 22.8 percent on the $US13.6 billion income the company posted last year.
In the March quarter, sales of Apple’s latest smartphones fell 16.4 per cent to 51.2 million units from 61.2 million for the same period last year, the first fall since the iPhone was launched in early 2007.
Apple has now tumbled from top of the tree for tech stocks, losing a third of its value from a high of $US133 in February 2015 to last night’s near two-year low of $US90.34.
The company now risks losing top spot as the world’s most valuable firm to US tech rival Alphabet, the holding company for Google.
With the iPhone accounting for almost two-thirds of Apple’s earnings, that has investors worried that the company desperately needs an innovative, popular new product to stay ahead, and the Apple Watch is not it.
Those fears saw billionaire investor Carl Icahn sell out of Apple earlier this year, after having been a vocal fan of the company.
Mr Icahn said he still believes in the business, and its chief executive Tim Cook, but pulled out because he was worried a slowing Chinese economy and aggressive regulation in that country would stymie Apple’s growth.
A worst case scenario for Apple is the fate of once mighty tech giant Nokia, which sold its once dominant mobile phone unit to Microsoft in 2013 after seeing its profits plummet through missing the smart phone boom.
There is a fear that one or more of its rivals will do to Apple what it did to Nokia.
Another case study is the once-dominant search engine and email provider Yahoo! which is now being rapidly strangled to death by the world’s new most valuable company, Alphabet (which owns Google).
The Australian share market opened marginally lower with ASX/SPI 200 index down 0.1 per cent 5355.6 points.
Early in the session, US West Texas Intermediate futures surged to $US47.02 which was a new high for the year and the strongest price since early November.
It was prompted by the International Energy Agency’s raising of its global oil demand growth forecast for 2016, to 1.2 million barrels per day.
Elsewhere, gains for telecommunications and consumer stocks helped to offset a tumble in Apple’s share price.
There were also some fresh warnings about higher interest rates, which spooked some investors.
Federal Reserve Bank of Boston president Eric Rosengren warned the US central bank may raise rates at a faster rate than many traders currently anticipate.
His Kansas City counterpart Esther George said that US interest rates were too low, as the economy was close to full employment and inflation was near the Fed’s target of 2 per cent.
By the close, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 9 points to 17,720.
The S&P 500 Index ended unchanged at 2,064 and the Nasdaq lost 0.5 per cent to 4,737.
European markets lost value – in London, the FTSE 100 fell by 1 per cent to 6,104.
At the same time, the Australian dollar was worth 73.2 US cents, having come under pressure overnight.
On the cross-rates, it was buying 65.35 euro cents, 50.65 British pence, 79.82 Japanese yen and $NZ1.07.
West Texas crude oil was higher at $US46.49 a barrel, the price of a barrel of Tapis had eased to $US48.92, and spot gold had edged down by more than 1 per cent, to $US1,263.11 an ounce.
With reporting by Rod Myer