Weakening US Dollar poised to boost Apple's sales performance overseas

Posted:
in AAPL Investors
It no longer appears likely that Apple's overseas earnings can be repatriated back to the United States at more favorable tax rates this year, as plans for tax reform--including deep cuts to health care spending aimed at enabling a huge tax cut--have been delayed. On the other hand, unsettling political news is also having an adverse affect on the US dollar, creating an unanticipated side effect: a more favorable currency exchange environment for Apple's foreign earnings.


Euro has reached a 6 month high against the US Dollar

Apple's foreign currency headwinds

The strengthening of the US Dollar--which began to have a notable impact on Apple's earnings reports starting in 2014--has repeatedly been cited by the company as negatively affecting its earnings in a number of ways.

In its Fiscal 2014 10K filing, the company noted that weakening foreign currencies "adversely affects the U.S. dollar value of the Company's foreign currency-denominated sales and earnings," and added that a stronger dollar generally results in the company being forced to raise its prices overseas, with the potential result of reducing demand as buyers balk at paying more for the same thing.

In 2015, the strengthening dollar caused Apple to raise prices in its stores ranging from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, France, Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Portugal.

In the summer of 2016, Britain's vote to leave the European Union caused the British Pound to fall dramatically against the dollar, resulting in an up to 20 percent price hike on some Mac models in the U.K., followed by a 25 percent hike in price tiers in its App Store earlier this year.

This January, Apple's chief executive Tim Cook noted that China's currency had devalued by 6 percent year over year compared to the dollar. The shift was large enough to prompt the company to report non-GAAP earnings on a constant currency basis to isolate its actual performance from the currency shifts out of its control.

Other American companies operating internationally have suffered from the same unfavorable currency headwinds, although Apple has in general weathered these fluctuations better than many of its peers simply because it is so profitable and because it has the capital and credit to enter long term hedging contracts to mitigate risk.

At the same time, the impact of foreign currency shifts in China has been a much larger issue for Apple than companies like Facebook, Google, Microsoft and U.S. hardware makers--few of whom have been able to materially penetrate the Chinese market at all, let alone making it a leading chunk of their business.

Apple has also taken advantage of the stronger dollar's purchasing ability to invest in large infrastructure, production and retail projects internationally, including a series of new retail stores in China, its massive new Battersea Power Station development in London, and a string of research and development facilities being built around the world.

American political chaos disrupting markets

Strong earnings in the winter quarter jolted Apple's stock price upward despite foreign currency headwinds. Apple shares continued to rise on apparent optimism that a new Republican president--backed by Republican control of both chambers of Congress--could quickly implement business-friendly tax breaks, including lower repatriation rates on Apple's very large overseas earnings.

However, that optimism turned out to be misplaced. Efforts to slash health care spending to enable very large tax breaks was met by popular resistance that fragmented the controlling political party, delaying the full passage of both health care cuts and subsequent efforts to shift tax policy.

Proposed travel bans, restrictions on visas, the halting of infrastructure spending and the postponement of a repatriation tax holiday that Apple and other Silicon Valley companies had been working with Hillary Clinton to draft as part of a seres of tech-friendly policy positions were already causes for concern before a series of troubling reports erupted last week--triggering fears of disruptive impeachment proceeding--appeared to cause shares of Apple to drop dramatically in tandem with the rest of the market.

At the same time, American political turmoil is hurting the dollar. That will have a positive impact on Apple's global profitability moving forward, even if it also makes it more expensive for Americans to travel abroad or buy foreign products. American political turmoil is hurting the dollar. That will have a positive impact on Apple's global profitability moving forward

The Euro, which nearly reached $1.40 in early 2014, fell down to $1.04 at the end of 2016. Yesterday it jumped back up above $1.12, a six month high against the dollar.

The British Pound, which reached $1.71 in 2014, fell as low as $1.22 after Brexit but has since inched back up to $1.30.

The Japanese Yen reached up to 124 in 2015, then collapsed to nearly 100 last winter; it has since improved to today's 111 against the US Dollar.

China's RMB has steadily depreciated against the USD since 2014, but the fall has at least stopped this year.

A weaker dollar means that Apple is now making more money (as enumerated in dollars) in a variety of territories at its current prices. It also holds the potential for Apple to lower its prices on hardware and apps overseas, a move that could be expected to induce demand. It remains to be seen how the US Dollar will compare going forward, but Apple is no doubt relieved to see more favorable exchange rates that will help it to boost its ability to earn money overseas, even if it has to delay plans to bring that cash back this year.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 19
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 2,650member
    It also holds the potential for Apple to lower its prices on hardware and apps overseas, a move that could be expected to induce demand.

    Yeah. As if that'd ever happen. It only took them a week or two to raise prices, we'll soon see if they drop too.
    edited May 2017 evilution
  • Reply 2 of 19
    DanielEranDanielEran Posts: 290editor
    elijahg said:
    It also holds the potential for Apple to lower its prices on hardware and apps overseas, a move that could be expected to induce demand.

    Yeah. As if that'd ever happen. It only took them a week or two to raise prices, we'll soon see if they drop too.
    As the linked articles on Brexit price hikes show, it took Apple 3-4 months to raise Mac prices and 6 months to raise App Store prices in the UK after the Pound crashed last summer. Lower prices benefit Apple if they help bring in the same $$ on products sold as the Pound begins to appreciate. However, the GBP still isn't anywhere near where it was a few years ago pre-Brexit , so the UK is unlikely to see Apple prices drop right away.
    Solijony0radarthekatwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 19
    quazzequazze Posts: 29member
    Great article (and observation) Daniel. Thank you.
    radarthekatwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 19
    SoliSoli Posts: 10,033member
    Off Topic: If you had invested a measly $100 in Bitcoin 7 years ago you'd have $72.9 million as of today.
    edited May 2017
  • Reply 5 of 19
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 2,650member
    elijahg said:
    It also holds the potential for Apple to lower its prices on hardware and apps overseas, a move that could be expected to induce demand.

    Yeah. As if that'd ever happen. It only took them a week or two to raise prices, we'll soon see if they drop too.
    As the linked articles on Brexit price hikes show, it took Apple 3-4 months to raise Mac prices and 6 months to raise App Store prices in the UK after the Pound crashed last summer. Lower prices benefit Apple if they help bring in the same $$ on products sold as the Pound begins to appreciate. However, the GBP still isn't anywhere near where it was a few years ago pre-Brexit , so the UK is unlikely to see Apple prices drop right away.
    I think what pissed people off here, was they bumped the price of the older 2015 Macbook by £200 on release of the touch bar one. They could have kept the price constant with lower component costs offsetting Sterling's fall. But instead they took the opportunity to hike the price; the same year-old Macbook went up by £200 overnight. Macbooks went from expensive to ripoff. Apple was in the minority too, others didn't inflate prices by 20% overnight. 
    singularity
  • Reply 6 of 19
    SoliSoli Posts: 10,033member
    elijahg said:
    elijahg said:
    It also holds the potential for Apple to lower its prices on hardware and apps overseas, a move that could be expected to induce demand.

    Yeah. As if that'd ever happen. It only took them a week or two to raise prices, we'll soon see if they drop too.
    As the linked articles on Brexit price hikes show, it took Apple 3-4 months to raise Mac prices and 6 months to raise App Store prices in the UK after the Pound crashed last summer. Lower prices benefit Apple if they help bring in the same $$ on products sold as the Pound begins to appreciate. However, the GBP still isn't anywhere near where it was a few years ago pre-Brexit , so the UK is unlikely to see Apple prices drop right away.
    I think what pissed people off here, was they bumped the price of the older 2015 Macbook by £200 on release of the touch bar one. They could have kept the price constant with lower component costs offsetting Sterling's fall. But instead they took the opportunity to hike the price; the same year-old Macbook went up by £200 overnight. Macbooks went from expensive to ripoff. Apple was in the minority too, others didn't inflate prices by 20% overnight. 
    "Rip off" is a ridiculous term. Either the cost of the product compared to its value is worthwhile for you as a consumer or its not. There is no collective "rip off" and Apple has sold more Macs this past quarter than in their entire history.

    We also have many examples in which Apple adds advanced new technologies that required significant, multi-year R&D and investment to come to fruition which causes the price to jump for a cycle or two before being lowered again. One example are the Retina displays. Not being able to get the 2016 MBP with Touch Bar, Touch ID and Apple Pay running a bespoke Apple-designed T1 chipset with yet another version of OS X forked from watchOS, I've decided to wait; hopefully I'll be able to pre-order in less than 2 weeks and with a nice drop in price, like Apple has done in the past now that the R&D costs are likely accounted for.
    jony0fastasleepwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 19
    radarthekatradarthekat Posts: 3,542moderator
    I think I've found the perfect combination.  Hold a big Apple stake to benefit from its future prospects and rising dividend while living in the Philippines, where the weakening dollar is offset by local political headwinds and unrest that keep the peso here from strengthening.  Not good for the Philippines economy that foreign investment is hesitant to come here, but a boon to the American expat.
    fastasleep
  • Reply 8 of 19
    anantksundaramanantksundaram Posts: 20,361member
    Live by the dollar, die by the dollar. 
  • Reply 9 of 19
    bestkeptsecretbestkeptsecret Posts: 4,180member
    Maybe time for me to start ordered from amazon.com again, rather than amazon.co.uk!
  • Reply 10 of 19
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 33,407member
    I think I've found the perfect combination.  Hold a big Apple stake to benefit from its future prospects and rising dividend while living in the Philippines, where the weakening dollar is offset by local political headwinds and unrest that keep the peso here from strengthening.  Not good for the Philippines economy that foreign investment is hesitant to come here, but a boon to the American expat.
    Please change this to "Political Outsider" or it will likely be locked and people won't be able to comment on the story. Thanks.
    tallest skil
  • Reply 11 of 19
    GrimzahnGrimzahn Posts: 64member
    As the linked articles on Brexit price hikes show, it took Apple 3-4 months to raise Mac prices and 6 months to raise App Store prices in the UK after the Pound crashed last summer. Lower prices benefit Apple if they help bring in the same $$ on products sold as the Pound begins to appreciate. However, the GBP still isn't anywhere near where it was a few years ago pre-Brexit , so the UK is unlikely to see Apple prices drop right away.
    The weakening dollar is no news, but yet did Apple in increase all App-Store prices by 10% claiming the Euro is way to weak. Greed is certainly in controll of Apple.
    brucemcSpamSandwichsingularity
  • Reply 12 of 19
    SoliSoli Posts: 10,033member
    Grimzahn said:
    As the linked articles on Brexit price hikes show, it took Apple 3-4 months to raise Mac prices and 6 months to raise App Store prices in the UK after the Pound crashed last summer. Lower prices benefit Apple if they help bring in the same $$ on products sold as the Pound begins to appreciate. However, the GBP still isn't anywhere near where it was a few years ago pre-Brexit , so the UK is unlikely to see Apple prices drop right away.
    The weakening dollar is no news, but yet did Apple in increase all App-Store prices by 10% claiming the Euro is way to weak. Greed is certainly in controll of Apple.
    How is that greed to want to even out prices based on the US market? They also drop prices when a country's currency strengthens.
  • Reply 13 of 19
    DracarysDracarys Posts: 72member
    elijahg said:
    It also holds the potential for Apple to lower its prices on hardware and apps overseas, a move that could be expected to induce demand.

    Yeah. As if that'd ever happen. It only took them a week or two to raise prices, we'll soon see if they drop too.
    They most definitely won't lower their prices to match a weakening American $. I'll gladly eat my words if I'm wrong, but I very highly doubt Apple would lower their prices. They will gladly raise them when the American $ is strong though.
  • Reply 14 of 19
    DracarysDracarys Posts: 72member
    Soli said:
    Grimzahn said:
    As the linked articles on Brexit price hikes show, it took Apple 3-4 months to raise Mac prices and 6 months to raise App Store prices in the UK after the Pound crashed last summer. Lower prices benefit Apple if they help bring in the same $$ on products sold as the Pound begins to appreciate. However, the GBP still isn't anywhere near where it was a few years ago pre-Brexit , so the UK is unlikely to see Apple prices drop right away.
    The weakening dollar is no news, but yet did Apple in increase all App-Store prices by 10% claiming the Euro is way to weak. Greed is certainly in controll of Apple.
    How is that greed to want to even out prices based on the US market? They also drop prices when a country's currency strengthens.
    Show me an example where they dropped the prices when the country's currency strengthens? Because I've never seen it. 
  • Reply 15 of 19
    brucemcbrucemc Posts: 1,541member
    Dracarys said:
    Soli said:
    Grimzahn said:
    As the linked articles on Brexit price hikes show, it took Apple 3-4 months to raise Mac prices and 6 months to raise App Store prices in the UK after the Pound crashed last summer. Lower prices benefit Apple if they help bring in the same $$ on products sold as the Pound begins to appreciate. However, the GBP still isn't anywhere near where it was a few years ago pre-Brexit , so the UK is unlikely to see Apple prices drop right away.
    The weakening dollar is no news, but yet did Apple in increase all App-Store prices by 10% claiming the Euro is way to weak. Greed is certainly in controll of Apple.
    How is that greed to want to even out prices based on the US market? They also drop prices when a country's currency strengthens.
    Show me an example where they dropped the prices when the country's currency strengthens? Because I've never seen it. 
    They do it when the exchange rate changes significantly. Has happened here in Canada when value of our dollar increased by 30%. 
  • Reply 16 of 19
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 33,407member
    Grimzahn said:
    As the linked articles on Brexit price hikes show, it took Apple 3-4 months to raise Mac prices and 6 months to raise App Store prices in the UK after the Pound crashed last summer. Lower prices benefit Apple if they help bring in the same $$ on products sold as the Pound begins to appreciate. However, the GBP still isn't anywhere near where it was a few years ago pre-Brexit , so the UK is unlikely to see Apple prices drop right away.
    The weakening dollar is no news, but yet did Apple in increase all App-Store prices by 10% claiming the Euro is way to weak. Greed is certainly in controll of Apple.
    LOL! And you'll only be happy if Apple decides to give everything away for free, amirite?
  • Reply 17 of 19
    SoliSoli Posts: 10,033member
    Dracarys said:
    Soli said:
    Grimzahn said:
    As the linked articles on Brexit price hikes show, it took Apple 3-4 months to raise Mac prices and 6 months to raise App Store prices in the UK after the Pound crashed last summer. Lower prices benefit Apple if they help bring in the same $$ on products sold as the Pound begins to appreciate. However, the GBP still isn't anywhere near where it was a few years ago pre-Brexit , so the UK is unlikely to see Apple prices drop right away.
    The weakening dollar is no news, but yet did Apple in increase all App-Store prices by 10% claiming the Euro is way to weak. Greed is certainly in controll of Apple.
    How is that greed to want to even out prices based on the US market? They also drop prices when a country's currency strengthens.
    Show me an example where they dropped the prices when the country's currency strengthens? Because I've never seen it. 
    Here's one example:

  • Reply 18 of 19
    retrogustoretrogusto Posts: 1,007member


    Apple has also taken advantage of the stronger dollar's purchasing ability to invest in large infrastructure, production and retail projects internationally, including a series of new retail stores in China, its massive new Battersea Power Station development in London, and a string of research and development facilities being built around the world.
    I think it's more likely that they used some of their non-dollar earnings to finance these projects, since most of their cash is in non-dollar currencies already. Why would they use their relatively small hoard of USD to finance a store in China when they have lots of local currency already that they can't use for US operations without paying a large repatriation tax?

    I think a "repatriation tax holiday" could be arranged separately from a more all-encompassing tax overhaul, but I agree that it's looking less and less likely for 2017. But Apple may end up being glad about the delay, because any further weakening of the dollar will mean greater profits abroad, and repatriation will occur at a more favorable exchange rate. When you're talking about more than $230 billion, every time the dollar drops 1%, that's more than a $2.3 billion increase in value.
  • Reply 19 of 19
    carnegiecarnegie Posts: 1,007member


    Apple has also taken advantage of the stronger dollar's purchasing ability to invest in large infrastructure, production and retail projects internationally, including a series of new retail stores in China, its massive new Battersea Power Station development in London, and a string of research and development facilities being built around the world.
    I think it's more likely that they used some of their non-dollar earnings to finance these projects, since most of their cash is in non-dollar currencies already. Why would they use their relatively small hoard of USD to finance a store in China when they have lots of local currency already that they can't use for US operations without paying a large repatriation tax?

    I think a "repatriation tax holiday" could be arranged separately from a more all-encompassing tax overhaul, but I agree that it's looking less and less likely for 2017. But Apple may end up being glad about the delay, because any further weakening of the dollar will mean greater profits abroad, and repatriation will occur at a more favorable exchange rate. When you're talking about more than $230 billion, every time the dollar drops 1%, that's more than a $2.3 billion increase in value.
    Apple having foreign earnings that haven't been 'repatriated' does not mean that those unremitted foreign earnings are held in non-U.S. dollar-denominated instruments or accounts. To the contrary, Apple's unremitted foreign earnings are generally held in U.S. dollar-denominated instruments or accounts. More generally, Apple employs a number of techniques to hedge against foreign currency fluctuations - e.g., issuing foreign currency-denominated debt.

    Foreign earnings that haven't been repatriated can be held in a lot of ways. That money can be held in the United States or in U.S.-based instruments. Apple holds more than $40 billion worth of U.S. Treasury securities as well as significant amounts of other U.S. agency debt and M(A)BSs. It holds well over $100 billion worth of corporate debt (i.e. money that it has loaned to other corporations).
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