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iPhone Manufacturers’ Slowing Sales Are a Bad Omen for Apple

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  • iPhone Manufacturers’ Slowing Sales Are a Bad Omen for Apple

Investors hunting for clues to the iPhone X’s reception can take a deeper look at its main manufacturing partners. And the latest doesn’t look good.

Apple Inc.’s five largest device assemblers reported a sharp slowdown after peaking at the end of last year, suggesting demand for the high-end device may have faded just a quarter after its release.

While Hai Precision Industry Co., Pegatron Corp. and three other key suppliers reported an 8 percent rise in their total sales across the March quarter, growth slowed sharply later in the period — a drop that in the past has presaged a downturn for Apple.

The concern is that the iPhone X, while enjoying a customary holiday quarter spike for new-generation Apple gadgets, fizzled out rapidly. Apple’s costliest smartphone has struggled to draw customers in emerging markets, while competitors from Huawei to Xiaomi roll out more premium phones and dominate China — the U.S. company’s biggest foreign market. On Friday, Morgan Stanley cut its estimate on iPhone shipments by 6 million, underscoring the growing unease since Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., the maker of iPhone processors, issued a disappointing outlook that triggered a 7 percent loss in Apple’s value over just two days.

Apple’s sales growth bears close correlation with that of its main quintet of assemblers, which depend on the iPhone maker for their own business growth — Hon Hai alone gets about half its revenue from Cupertino. While it’s difficult to translate their numbers directly into Apple’s, a look at reported figures since 2016 suggests it’s possible to draw certain conclusions at the general health of the U.S. smartphone titan’s top-line.

The group is responsible for finishing most of Apple’s gizmos: Hon Hai, Pegatron and Wistron Corp. assemble iPhones. Hon Hai also has a role in other Apple products, splitting MacBooks with Quanta Computer Inc. and sharing iPads with Compal Electronics Inc. Quanta and Compal also make Apple Watches.

Hon Hai and crew can indeed offer insights into Apple’s sales but to a limited extent, said Jusy Hong, a director with IHS Markit. While Hon Hai, Quanta and Pegatron both rely on Cupertino for more than half their business, Wistron and Compal are far less dependent on Apple, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. In addition, as hardware mavens, their operations would have no impact on sales of software and services, a significant and growing part of Apple’s top and bottom line.

“It’s true that they are major assemblers of Apple but at the same time they have other customers,” he said in an email.

Investors remain concerned that iPhone sales at Apple, which reports results May 1, failed to meet their lofty expectations. Mia Huang, an analyst at Taipei-based research firm Trendforce, estimates that overall iPhone production volumes grew slightly to 54-56 million units in the March quarter — barely up from 52 million in the same period of last year, when it was propelled by demand for lower-priced and older models like the iPhone 6S and ramp up of the iPhone 7.

“According to our estimates, iPhone X’s production volume fell by 50% in the first quarter compared to the fourth quarter,” said Huang.

Still, the iPhone X’s higher price tag ensured a tidy jump in revenue. For now, analysts are still counting on the first three months this year to have been Apple’s best second quarter ever with an average estimate for $61 billion in revenue. And while its assembly quintet saw sales decelerate during the period, their collective growth is still double that of a year earlier.

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Businessinsider, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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Crude Oil

Nigeria Adds 17 Deep Offshore Blocks to 2024 Oil Licensing Round

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Lekki Deep Seaport

The Federal Government of Nigeria announced on Tuesday the addition of 17 deep offshore oil blocks to the 2024 Licensing Round for oil fields.

This significant expansion is aimed at enhancing the nation’s crude oil production capacity and attracting more foreign and local investment.

The Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC), Gbenga Komolafe, disclosed this development during a pre-bid conference held in Lagos.

Komolafe said the decision was part of the commission’s ongoing efforts to derive maximum value from Nigeria’s abundant oil and gas reserves.

“In pursuit of the commission’s commitment to derive value from the country’s abundant oil and gas reserves and increase production, the commission has been working assiduously with multi-client companies to undertake more exploratory activities to acquire more data to foster and encourage further investment in the Nigerian upstream sector,” Komolafe stated.

The new additions come on the heels of recent bids for 12 oil blocks and seven deep offshore assets in the 2024 marginal fields bid round.

This follows the earlier 2022/23 mini-bid round that saw some deep offshore blocks put up for offer.

The Federal Government’s proactive approach signals its determination to capitalize on the country’s hydrocarbon resources.

Komolafe noted that additional data acquired on deep offshore blocks facilitated this expansion. “As a result of additional data acquired in respect of deep offshore blocks, the commission has added 17 deep offshore blocks to the 2024 Licensing Round. Further details on the blocks can be found on the bid portal,” he added.

To accommodate the expanded opportunities, the NUPRC has adjusted the 2024 Licensing Round schedule. The registration and submission of pre-qualification documents, initially set to close on June 25, 2024, has been extended to July 5, 2024.

The data access, purchase, evaluation, and bid preparation phase will commence on July 8, 2024, and close on November 29, 2024, as initially planned.

Komolafe also highlighted the importance of ensuring equitable participation and transparency in the bidding process.

To this end, the commission has sought and received approval from President Bola Tinubu, who also serves as the petroleum minister, to implement attractive fiscal regimes and minimize entry fees for both licensing rounds.

A cap has been placed on the signature bonus payable for the award of the acreages to promote a level playing field for all bidders.

“Since the criteria for the award of the oil blocks are now much more attractive than they initially were during the 2022/23 Mini Bid Round, it is in the interest of equity and fair play to give all investors the same opportunity to bid for the assets,” Komolafe asserted.

Furthermore, the NUPRC announced that the pre-qualified applicants from the 2022/23 Mini Bid Round would not need to undergo a new pre-qualification process for the 2024 Licensing Round. Their technical submissions remain valid, and they are encouraged to re-submit new commercial bids to benefit from the revised, more attractive criteria.

These applicants are also free to bid for the newly offered blocks in the 2024 Licensing Round.

The Federal Government’s expanded licensing round presents a lucrative opportunity for investors to participate in Nigeria’s burgeoning oil and gas sector. With the introduction of these 17 new deep offshore blocks, Nigeria aims to solidify its position as a leading oil producer on the global stage and stimulate economic growth through strategic energy sector investments.

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Crude Oil

Brent Crude Falls to $84.12, WTI Rises to $80.19

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Brent crude oil - Investors King

In a cautious market, oil prices showed mixed movements in Asian trade on Tuesday.

Global benchmark Brent crude oil, against which Nigerian oil is priced, experienced a slight decline of 13 cents, or 0.15%, to settle at $84.12 per barrel.

Meanwhile, U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil saw a modest increase of 14 cents, or 0.17% to $80.19 per barrel.

The recent fluctuations come after both benchmarks posted significant gains of around 2% on Monday, marking their highest closing prices since April.

The market’s attention has now shifted back to fundamental factors, which have exhibited signs of softness for some time.

Francisco Blanch, a commodity and derivatives strategist at Bank of America, noted in a client note that global crude oil inventories and refined product storage in key locations such as the United States and Singapore remain elevated.

“The oil market shifted its focus back to fundamentals, which have been soft for some time,” Blanch stated, highlighting the broader concerns about global demand growth.

Data from the first quarter of the year indicated a deceleration in global oil demand growth to 890,000 barrels per day year-on-year, with further slowing likely in the second quarter.

Also, according to the country’s statistics bureau, China’s oil refinery output fell by 1.8% year-on-year in May due to planned maintenance and higher crude costs.

Market participants are also keenly watching for further indications on interest rates and U.S. demand trends, with several U.S. Federal Reserve representatives scheduled to speak later on Tuesday.

Despite the mixed signals, some analysts remain optimistic about the impact of OPEC+ supply cuts.

Patricio Valdivieso, vice president and global lead of crude trading analysis at Rystad Energy, said, “The latest guidance provided by OPEC+, as well as their unchanged 2.25 million barrels per day demand growth outlook, signals a stagnation in oil supply growth for 2024 and an apparent downside risk to production in 2025.”

Valdivieso further noted the disconnect between OPEC+’s demand outlook and those of other agencies, making it challenging to adopt a fully bearish stance on the market.

This sentiment has been reinforced by recent investor behavior, with hedge funds and other money managers purchasing the equivalent of 80 million barrels in key petroleum futures and options contracts over the week ending June 11.

Support for the market has also come from a rebound in refining margins, particularly in Europe and Asia.

Sparta Commodities analyst Neil Crosby pointed out that refining margins at a typical complex refinery in Singapore averaged $3.60 a barrel for June so far, up from $2.66 a barrel in May.

As the market navigates these dynamics, the cautious optimism among investors and analysts suggests a period of continued volatility and adjustment, with fundamental factors and policy decisions playing pivotal roles in shaping future price movements.

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Energy

Dangote Refinery’s Power Production Dwarfs National Grid’s 11-Year Progress

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ossiomo

The stark contrast in power generation between Nigeria’s national grid and Dangote Refinery has come into sharp focus as Dangote Refinery generates twice the national power production.

Over the past eleven years, Nigeria has managed to add a mere 760 megawatts (MW) to its national grid, while the Dangote Refinery has outpaced this growth significantly with  1,500 MW in a much shorter timeframe.

For decades, Nigeria has grappled with chronic power shortages, an issue that has repeatedly dominated election campaigns and policy debates.

Data from the Nigeria Electricity System Operator revealed that power delivery from Generation Companies (Gencos) to Distribution Companies (Discos) via the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) has seen only a modest increase.

From an average of 3,400 MW in November 2013, it has risen to 4,160 MW as of June 12, 2024, marking a 22 percent increase.

In stark contrast, the Dangote Refinery, which began construction in 2018, now produces 1,500 MW of power for its operations.

This significant output not only surpasses the national grid’s decade-long expansion but also emphasizes the private sector’s ability to address Nigeria’s power challenges more efficiently.

“We don’t put pressure on the grid. We produce about 1,500 megawatts of power for self-consumption,” stated Aliko Dangote at the Afreximbank Annual Meetings and AfriCaribbean Trade & Investment Forum in Nassau, The Bahamas.

This development underscores concerns regarding the slow pace of growth in Nigeria’s power sector despite substantial investments and an 11-year-old privatisation effort.

“The government and some operators in the sector may claim there has been some form of growth since 2013, but in actual terms, how many people are benefiting from the privatised power sector?” questioned Charles Akinbobola, a senior energy analyst at Sofidam Capital.

He added, “The challenge of the power sector has not entirely been the scarcity of funds. Several trillions of naira have been pumped into that industry. The sector has been plagued by the shortcomings of its managers.”

Comparatively, Nigeria’s power production capacity of 13,000 MW falls significantly short of South Africa’s 58,095 MW, despite having a similar-sized economy and a quarter of Nigeria’s population.

The ageing national grid, however, delivers only about 4,000 MW to over 200 million citizens—roughly the power consumption of Edinburgh’s 548,000 residents.

Other African nations have made more significant strides in addressing their power needs.

Egypt, for instance, added 28,229 MW to its national grid between December 2015 and December 2018, achieving a total installed capacity of 58,818 MW.

This was accomplished through a fast-track project and a substantial partnership with Siemens, adding 14,400 MW in just 2.5 years.

The sluggish growth of Nigeria’s power sector is not just a technical issue but a significant economic one. Rising energy costs and unreliable power supply have disrupted productive activities, forcing many factories to self-generate more than 14,000 MW of electricity.

According to the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, member companies spent N639 billion on alternative energy sources between 2014 and 2021, further highlighting the inefficiencies within the public power supply system.

“The power sector’s inefficiencies cost consumers billions of naira and stifle economic growth,” noted Muda Yusuf, CEO of the Centre for the Promotion of Private Enterprise. “There are issues of technical and commercial losses which are yet to be addressed. These inefficiencies are costs that consumers are compelled or expected to pay for as part of the cost recovery argument.”

The stark contrast in power generation between the Dangote Refinery and the national grid serves as a wake-up call for Nigeria’s power sector.

It underscores the urgent need for comprehensive reforms, better management, and increased investment to meet the growing energy demands of the nation’s burgeoning population.

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