A new lawsuit alleges that Apple and its CEO Tim Cook were aware that iPhone sales were falling back in November due to the trade war between the US and China, yet they portrayed a fake positive picture to mislead investors, and in the process committed securities fraud.
The lawsuit wants class-action status to cover all those who purchased common Apple shares from 2 November 2018 to 2 January 2019. The plaintiff believes that this includes hundreds of thousands of investors.
The lawsuit was initiated by the employees’ retirement fund at the City of Roseville.
It is also claimed that Apple and its CEO were aware that instead of purchasing new phones, iPhone owners were purchasing new batteries, which further hampered sales growth. The company also reduced orders for new phones and slashed prices to cut inventory without telling investors.
When it reported financial results in November, the company stated that it was going into the holiday period with its “strongest lineup of products and services ever.”
During a conference call with analysts and investors later that day, Apple was specifically asked whether the tariff issue between the US and China was affecting iPhone demand, and Cook said that the firm was experiencing currency-related problems in countries such as India, Turkey, Russia and Brazil but that “he would not put China in that category.”
Apple also announced that it would no longer report unit sales, but insisted that it would still “experience strong performance.”
Only in January, Apple revealed the “true state” of Q1 iPhone sales and announced that it would not meet its published revenue forecasts. It also conceded that price reductions for battery replacements – announced because it was deliberately degrading iPhone battery performance – had damaged sales.
Apple’s stock price subsequently dropped by well over 9%, the lawsuit claims.