Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) may have turned the Chinese state-run media attacks over the past couple of weeks into a big win thanks to CEO Tim Cook’s apology, but some analysts say that doesn’t necessarily mean it will be smooth sailing for the company in China from now on.
Analysts at Barclays PLC (NYSE:BCS) (LON:BARC) issued a report to investors today saying that Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s situation in China is worth keeping an eye on, especially if the Communist newspaper People’s Daily pushes for tougher regulatory requirements for the company.
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On Monday Citi analysts compared China’s situation with that of Hewlett-Packard Company (NYSE:HPQ) a few years ago. However, Barclays analysts feel that Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s situation in China is different because the complaints leveled at it were “relatively minor” as they focused on warranty and repair policies rather than product defects, which was the case with Hewlett-Packard Company (NYSE:HPQ).
The analysts did say that the attacks could still bring some downside to Apple’s China sales in the near term, in spite of Cook’s apology. However, they believe that a new iPhone product cycle in the second half of this year could turn things around for the company yet again in China.
Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is expected to report its March quarter results later this month. Barclays PLC (NYSE:BCS) (LON:BARC) analysts believe that the quarter will be mostly in-line with their $9.80 earnings per share estimate, which is slightly below the consensus of $10.13 per share. In their estimation, iPhone sales will end up being in the mid-30 million area, and they expect 10-inch iPad sales to be extremely weak because of greater competition.
The analysts predict that Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s June guidance will be in the $8 to $8.25 per share range “if sales don’t pick up.” Currently they’ve set their estimate at $9.04 per share for June, compared to the consensus of $9.39 per share. They’re also predicting $38 billion in revenue, compared to the $39.8 billion consensus.
One thing they will especially be looking at is Apple’s June gross margin guidance. They believe if Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is able to keep it over 35 percent even though iPhone sales are lower quarter over quarter and the cost of components is higher, then it could be seen as a positive for investors. They said that would keep the company’s long-term earnings power “closer to $40.
Shares of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) were trading mostly flat on Tuesday.