Apple grabs record China market share as Q4 sales surge; poised for strong earnings

Apple grabs record China market share as Q4 sales surge; poised for strong earnings
Apple's direct store in Nanjing. Image: Shutterstock
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Updated 26 January 2022

Apple grabs record China market share as Q4 sales surge; poised for strong earnings

Apple grabs record China market share as Q4 sales surge; poised for strong earnings
  • In 2021 as a whole, Apple ranked as China’s third best-selling smartphone brand with 16 percent of the market

Apple Inc. achieved its highest-ever market share in China in the fourth quarter, when it was the top-selling vendor there for the first time in six years, research firm Counterpoint Research reported on Wednesday.


The milestone coincided with the release of the iPhone 13, and amid otherwise stagnant demand for handsets as chief rival Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd’s market share declined.


Apple’s smartphone market share reached 23 percent, a record for the brand.

Its unit sales volume grew 32 percent year-on-year in the quarter, while total smartphone sales in China fell 9 percent, according to Counterpoint.

The company navigated pandemic-related supply chain issues better than rivals at the end of 2021, likely helping the iPhone maker surpass Wall Street revenue growth targets of 6 percent, some analysts estimate.


Apple, is set to post quarterly earnings on Thursday.

Wall Street analysts expect Apple to post about $118.7 billion in revenue, representing 6.48 percent year-over-year growth, and quarterly earnings per share of $1.89, according to Eikon data as of Tuesday.


Apple posted a rare revenue miss in the fiscal quarter ended Sept. 25, which Chief Executive Tim Cook attributed to pandemic-related supply constraints and manufacturing disruptions that together cost the company an estimated $6 billion in sales.


Counterpoint analyst Mengmeng Zhang cited a lower starting price in China and the impact of US sanctions against Huawei, Apple’s main competitor in the high-end segment, as factors.


Apple last ranked as China’s top-selling smartphone brand in late 2015, just after the company launched its iPhone 6, which attracted Chinese consumers with their large screens.


In 2021 as a whole, Apple ranked as China’s third best-selling smartphone brand with 16 percent of the market.


Vivo and Oppo, two Android handset brands under the privately-owned BBK Electronics, ranked first and second with 22 percent and 21 percent respectively.


Year on year, Apple’s unit sales rose 47 percent while Huawei’s tumbled 68 percent. Overall smartphone sales in China fell 2 percent, according to Counterpoint.


Lengthening upgrade cycles have presented an ongoing dilemma for Chinese smartphone brands looking to maintain growth at home, as consumers delay purchasing new devices.


A global chip and component shortage has meanwhile rattled the entire electronics industry, affecting pricing and margins for all hardware makers.

Apple, the first company worth $3 trillion has been losing value along with the broader stock market. 

Apple stock has fallen 10 percent this month and the S&P 500 index has dropped 9 percent.


Centennial, Colgate Energy combine to create $7bn oil producer

Centennial, Colgate Energy combine to create $7bn oil producer
Updated 5 sec ago

Centennial, Colgate Energy combine to create $7bn oil producer

Centennial, Colgate Energy combine to create $7bn oil producer

Centennial Resource Development Inc. and Colgate Energy Partners III LLC have agreed to a merger of equals, the companies said on Thursday, creating a $7 billion Permian Basin-focused US oil and gas producer.

The deal comes when global crude prices have surged after sanctions on big producer Russia following its invasion of Ukraine, helping create attractive corporate valuations after years of financial underperformance.

Reuters reported in December that the private equity owners of Colgate Energy were preparing to float the shale oil producer on the stock market at a valuation approaching $4 billion.

Shares of Centennial, founded by shale pioneer Mark Papa, rose 4 percent to $7.79 in premarket trade.

The company last year was seeking buyers for properties covering about 6,000 net acres in the southern Delaware basin of Texas, according to the company managing the sale.

The deal will create the largest exploration and production company focused on the Delaware Basin, the westernmost shale field within the Permian, the companies said on Thursday, with current production of about 135,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day.

The deal is expected to close in the second half of 2022, following which existing Centennial shareholders will own about 53 percent of the combined company and existing Colgate owners the rest.

The merger values Colgate at about $3.9 billion and consists of 269.3 million shares of Centennial stock, $525 million of cash and the assumption of about $1.4 billion of Colgate’s outstanding net debt.


MENA Project Tracker: Algeria’s Sonatrach, Italy’s Eni cancel work on $500m pipeline project

MENA Project Tracker: Algeria’s Sonatrach, Italy’s Eni cancel work on $500m pipeline project
Updated 6 min 26 sec ago

MENA Project Tracker: Algeria’s Sonatrach, Italy’s Eni cancel work on $500m pipeline project

MENA Project Tracker: Algeria’s Sonatrach, Italy’s Eni cancel work on $500m pipeline project

RIYADH: Algeria’s Sonatrach and Italy’s Eni have both terminated work on a major pipeline project in Algeria. On another note, UAE’s Masdar and National Petroleum Construction Co. have agreed to explore potential partnerships in the offshore wind, green hydrogen, among other renewables. Elsewhere, contractors have been requested to submit bids for Emaar’s Lamborghini-branded villas in Dubai. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia’s El-Seif has begun working on Aramco’s public private partnership staff accommodation complex.

·      Algerian national state-owned oil company Sonatrach and Italian multinational oil and gas company Eni have canceled work on a $500 million worth pipeline project in Algeria, MEED reported. The project’s scope included laying pipelines, installing valve stations, installing a control system, installing fenced burn pits, among other tasks. 

·      UAE government-owned renewable energy company Masdar and National Petroleum Construction Co. are planning to explore potential partnerships in offshore wind, green hydrogen, and other renewable energy technologies, MEED reported. While both firms will initially focus on offshore wind, they will later explore the remaining sectors including battery storage technologies. 

·      Contractors are expected to submit their bids for a package for multinational real estate developer Emaar’s Lamborghini-branded villas to be located at Dubai Hills Estate by May 19, MEED reported. The package is the building of 40 six-bedroom villas. The contractors prequalified for the package include local firms al-Basti & Muktha, ASGC, and Engineering Construction Co., besides India’s Shapoorij Pallonji.

·      Saudi Arabian construction engineering firm El-Seif Engineering Contracting has commenced work on Saudi Aramco’s public private partnership, also known as PPP, staff accommodation complex to be located in oil complex Tanajib. The package which was awarded to the firm includes the building of 2,500 housing units, a food court, parking facilities, and infrastructure. 


Shares slump as retail giants sound stagflation alarm

Shares slump as retail giants sound stagflation alarm
Updated 9 min 40 sec ago

Shares slump as retail giants sound stagflation alarm

Shares slump as retail giants sound stagflation alarm
  • Bond markets rallied in the dive for safety and on bets that interest rate rises may get recalibrated

LONDON: Heavy falls in European and Asian stock markets followed Wall Street’s worst day since mid-2020 on Thursday, as stark warnings from some of the world’s biggest retailers underscored just how hard inflation is biting.

Bond markets rallied in the dive for safety and on bets that interest rate rises may get recalibrated, but it was the gloom striking down equities after Wednesday’s $25 billion wipeout in US retail giant Target’s shares that dominated the action.

Europe was down 2 percent by lunch, led by a 2.5 percent fall in its retail sector , while scarlet red US futures and a sharp overnight Chinese tech tumble pushed MSCI all-country world back toward 1-1/2 year lows.

That 47-country index is now down almost 18 percent in what is its worst start to a year on recent record.

“Target and Walmart coming out with disappointing numbers has really, really spooked people,” said Close Brothers Asset Management’s Chief Investment Officer Robert Alster.

“We are going to see a raft of downgrades to US GDP (forecasts) now... it really looks like we are running into a faster slowdown than we expected.”

The S&P 500 had lost 4 percent on Wednesday while the Nasdaq had fallen almost 5 percent as interest-rate sensitive megacap stocks Amazon, Nvidia and Tesla dropped close to 7 percent while Apple tumbled 5.6 percent.

Asia-Pacific shares ex-Japan then snapped four days of gains to wilt 1.8 percent, dragged down by a 1.65 percent loss for Australia’s resource-heavy index, a 2.5 percent drop in Hong Kong. Tokyo’s Nikkei shed 1.9 percent too.

Tech giants listed in Hong Kong were hit particularly hard, with the index falling nearly 4 percent. China’s online behemoth Tencent sank more than 6 percent after it reported no revenue growth in the first quarter, its worst performance since going public in 2004.

China’s technology and property sectors are still reeling from a year-long government crackdown and slowing economic prospects stemming from Beijing’s strict zero-COVID policy, even though soothing comments from Vice Premier Liu He to tech executives buoyed sentiment on Wednesday.

Central Focus
The focus remained on what central banks will now do as they walk the tightrope of trying to regain control of inflation, which is now at 40-year highs in some countries, without causing painful recessions.
“We will have to discuss what we can do together in our respective areas of responsibility to avoid stagflation scenarios,” German finance minister Christian Lindner said as he arrived for a two-day meeting of top central bankers near Bonn.
Two top US central bankers had said on Wednesday that they expect the Federal Reserve to downshift to a more measured pace of rate rises after July, but in Europe traders were suddenly pricing in as many as four ECB hikes. It hasn’t raised interest rates for a decade.
However, while things haven’t reached the point of no return, they are seemingly heading in the direction of “out of control. That is probably the most worrying part for the market,” said Hebe Chen, market analyst at IG.
In the currency markets, the US dollar eased back 0.3 percent against a basket of major currencies, after a 0.55 percent jump overnight that ended a three-day losing streak.
The euro gained 0.4 percent on the ECB rate rise view, while the Aussie dollar gained 0.8 percent and New Zealand’s kiwi dollar bounced 0.6 percent, helped by an easing of Shanghai’s COVID lockdown in China.
US Treasuries rallied overnight and were bright at 2.84 percent in Europe where the risk-adverse mood also saw Germany’s 10-year bond yield — which moves inverse to price — fall back below the closely watched 1 percent level.
Inflation worriers watched oil prices ease again too, as fears over slower economic growth and signs that Venezuelan oil might be coming back onto the market outweighed lingering fears over tight global supplies.
Brent crude went from $110.41 to $108.04 per barrel in London trading, while US crude dipped to $108.05 a barrel and gold, which has fallen more than 12 percent since March, clawed up to $1,830 an ounce.
(Additional reporting by Francesco Canepa in Koenigswinter, Germany, Stella Qiu in Beijing and Alun John in Hong Kong; Editing by Nick Macfie and Chizu Nomiyama)


ECB to force UK-based investment banks to relocate staff, trading

ECB to force UK-based investment banks to relocate staff, trading
Updated 57 min 20 sec ago

ECB to force UK-based investment banks to relocate staff, trading

ECB to force UK-based investment banks to relocate staff, trading
  • Banks could be required to appoint a head of trading desk within the euro area legal entity or may be asked to ensure the desk has the adequate infrastructure and number and seniority of traders

FRANKFURT: Too many global investment banks continue to serve euro zone clients out of London and the European Central Bank plans to force them to relocate senior staff and trading activity to the bloc, ECB supervisory chief Andrea Enria said on Thursday.

The ECB has long battled the industry’s biggest players, who are reluctant to relocate activities after Brexit, despite explicit demands by the ECB, which supervises the bloc’s biggest financial institutions.

In a sign that patience is wearing thin, Enria said the ECB will issue “binding decisions” to key investment firms, prescribing action on a case-by-case basis.

“We want to ensure that incoming legal entities have onshore governance and risk management arrangements that are commensurate, from a prudential perspective, with the risk they originate,” Enria said in a blog post. “The extent of the actual relocation and specific booking configuration will depend on the current set-up of each bank.”

Banks could be required to appoint a head of trading desk within the euro area legal entity or may be asked to ensure the desk has the adequate infrastructure and number and seniority of traders to manage risk locally, the ECB said.

They could also be asked to establish a solid governance and internal control framework of remote booking practices and to ensure limited reliance on intragroup hedging.

Of the trading desks assessed by the ECB at seven key institutions, around 70 percent still used a back-to-back booking model, a frowned upon practice in which a firm transfers risks to a third party or to another intragroup entity which then hedges it.

It also concluded that 20 percent of desks were organized as split desks, in which a duplicate version of the primary trading desk located offshore is established within the euro area legal entity to manage the part of the risk originated there.

These practices remove risk management expertise from the euro zone entity, leaving the local unit vulnerable in case of market turbulence.

“It is our duty to protect the depositors and other creditors of the local legal entity, prevent the disruption of banking services and safeguard broader financial stability in our area of jurisdiction,” Enria said. 


Russian pipeline gas exports to EU fall 4.5% as supplies through Ukraine get hit

Russian pipeline gas exports to EU fall 4.5% as supplies through Ukraine get hit
Updated 19 May 2022

Russian pipeline gas exports to EU fall 4.5% as supplies through Ukraine get hit

Russian pipeline gas exports to EU fall 4.5% as supplies through Ukraine get hit

RIYADH: Russia’s gas pipeline exports through its main trade routes — an aggregate of Nord Stream 1, Ukraine transit, and Yamal pipeline — fell 4.5 percent on May 16, a recent market note issued by Rystad Energy said.
The dip is caused due to a near 30 percent decline in the flows via Ukraine’s gas transportation system.
The European benchmark for natural gas prices — Dutch TTF M+1 — surged 15 percent on May 12 as Moscow placed sanctions on Gazprom units that operate in countries that have imposed sanctions on Russia since the start of the Ukraine war, according to another note from RE.
The Russian government has barred 31 companies from conducting transactions and entering Russian ports including Gazprom Germania and Europol Gas -– the owner of the Polish part of the Yamal Europe pipeline.
The Yamal-Europe pipeline is seen as a potential alternative route to the Russian transits via Ukraine that has been put in jeopardy due to the ongoing war between the two countries.
Russia had previously halted supplies to Poland and Bulgaria to take action against “unfriendly” countries that refuse to make payments in rubles, according to Bloomberg.
Shipments via Ukraine, on the other hand, were also curtailed on May 11 after a key cross-border entry point was put out of action because of troop activity on the ground.
“Current gas contracts could be deemed null and void because of this decision and supplies could be stopped unilaterally by Gazprom, citing a regulatory order outside of their control,” Kaushal Ramesh, a senior analyst at Rystad Energy said in a May 12 note.
“There is historical precedent for Gazprom stopping gas flows as they did several times between 2005-2014,” Ramesh pointed out then.
While this situation is not probable, it will put pressure on Europe “to arrange for additional LNG, speed up plans for a buyer’s alliance and potentially consider demand-side measures such as gas rationing,” the analysis said.
The EU, however, has been taking precautionary measures to ensure appropriate storage levels. The current stock is expected to last through most of 2022 taking into consideration the possibility of a complete halt of Russian flows.
But the outlook for winter 2022 supply is now much more pessimistic, the note said.
As Europe and its allies in the US and the UK impose a wide range of sanctions targeting Russia over the war in Ukraine, they are yet to find alternatives to Russian gas that makes up 40 percent of their consumption.