Carl Icahn: Will someone rid my portfolio of this rotten Apple?

China blamed as billionaire activist investor ends stock flirtation, makes $2bn

iPhone 6S colors

Billionaire activist investor Carl Icahn has offloaded his Apple shares after the stock dropped below $100 a piece this week following the vendor's first sales slip in 13 years.

The world's most valued tech company reported a 13 per cent drop in turnover to $50.6m for the three months ended 31 March, Apple's Q3 of fiscal '16 before the share price dropepd by nine per cent to around $95.

“We no longer have a position in Apple”, Icahn said on CNBC. Despite this he claimed Apple boss Timothy Donald Cook was doing a "great job".

Icahn owned under one per cent of Apple’s shares and claimed he made $2bn on the sale. The investor said he cleared his portfolio of Apple due to China's growing influence on the smartphone market and over Apple.

"You worry a little bit — and maybe more than a little — about China's attitude," Icahn said, adding the country's government could "come in and make it very difficult for Apple to sell there ... you can do pretty much what you want there."

Sales in China was a success story for Apple - it sells more in the country that the whole of Europe but demand for shiny new iPhones has fallen.

Apple grew 71 per cent in China during the Christmas quarter, but this turned into a more modest 11 per cet growth in the most recent quarter as the local economy slowed and discretionary spending shrank.

The iPhone is seen as a premium brand in China's saturated smartphone market but Apple is facing stiff competition from lower cost natives including Huawei, Xiaomi and Lenovo.

Apple's Q3 turnover in Greater China - mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan - fell 26 percent year-on-year to $12.49 billion. Globally, iPhone shipments dropped 16 per cent to 51.2 million units, and revenue on those devices went down 18 per cent to $32.9bn.

Icahn said he would buy Apple stock again if China "was basically steadied," and reckoned the company was still a good bet. ®


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