The comment came a day after the company’s letter to U.S. trade representative Robert Lighthizer was revealed, which said Trump’s proposed tariffs on $200 billion worth of imported Chinese goods would affect the Apple Watch, AirPods, Mac mini and Apple Pencil.
Bank of America Merrill Lynch said Apple may respond to Trump’s pressure by asking its partners to bring some final iPhone assembly operations into the U.S.
“‘Back to US’ manufacturing seems to be back on the agenda for President Trump … We believe Apple could ask Hon Hai and Pegatron to shift a small portion of their iPhone manufacturing to the US in response to President Trump’s request,” analyst Wamsi Mohan said in a note to clients entitled “Handicapping the China trade risk and potential for ramping US manufacturing” Monday. “The conclusion was for the iPhone (not currently impacted by Tariffs) moving production (100% of final assembly) to the U.S. would need 20% price increases to offset the incremental labor costs.”
Mohan said under the “most likely” scenario in which Apple moves 10 percent of its iPhone assembly to the U.S., the average selling price of the iPhone would rise by 8 percent. He also said if Apple shifts 50 percent or 100 percent of iPhone assembly domestically, it would increase iPhone prices by 14 percent and 20 percent respectively.
The analyst downplayed the prospect of Apple bringing more comprehensive iPhone production [non-assembly] factories into the U.S. due to higher labor costs. He noted wages for a U.S. worker is 2.6 times more than a Chinese worker.
Mohan reiterated his buy rating and $250 price target for Apple shares, representing 13 percent upside to Friday’s close.
Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.