Apple's biggest supplier Foxconn aims to cut $2.88 billion from expenses in 2019

The move is likely to add to the gloom surrounding Apple and its suppliers for the iPhone.

Apple biggest iPhone assembler Foxconn aims to cut 20 billion yuan ($2.88 billion) from expenses in 2019 as the company faces “a very difficult and competitive year”, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday, citing an internal memo.

The Taiwan-based producer said in a statement it was conducting a regular annual review to budget effectively for 2019, but it was also the latest to point to concerns over demand for Apple’s flagship devices.

Shares in Apple, at the heart of this week’s brutal sell-off on Wall Street, were up 1.2 percent at $179.13 in a broadly steadier market.

A customer looks at Apple's new iPhone XS. Image: Reuters

A customer looks at Apple's new iPhone XS. Image: Reuters

They have fallen nearly 9 percent since 12 November when one of its facial recognition suppliers, Lumentum Holdings Inc, cut its outlook for the holiday quarter.

Shares in Foxconn, formally known as Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd, closed down less than 1 percent at T$70.60.

Apple shocked investors earlier this month with a lower-than-expected sales forecast for the Christmas quarter that jolted parts suppliers across the world.

US chipmaker Lumentum was among the first to cut forecast along with screen maker Japan Display, followed by financial warnings from Qorvo Inc, British chipmaker IQE and Austria’s AMS.

Foxconn's iPhone business will need to reduce expenses by 6 billion yuan next year and the company plans to eliminate about 10 percent of non-technical staff, the Bloomberg report here said.

Foxconn said it regularly reviews its operations to reallocate resources across its operations.

“The review being carried out by our team this year is no different than similar exercises carried out in past years... (to ensure we are) aligned with the current and anticipated needs of our customers, our global operations and the market and economic challenges,” it said in the statement.

Foxconn posted a weaker-than-expected rise in quarterly profit last week. Japan’s Nikkei daily reported earlier this month that Apple had told Foxconn and rival Pegatron Corp to halt plans for additional production lines dedicated to the iPhone XR.

Sector analysts estimate that Apple cut orders to its Taiwanese suppliers by 20-30 percent earlier in November, mainly because of weak demand for the iPhone XR and XS Max.

Apple started selling its higher-priced iPhone XS and XS Max in September and the XR model last month.

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