Skepticism about the pace of iPhone sales and potential tariff-driven challenges in China has not been enough to shore up the short interest in Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL). The figure fell 16% in the period that ended June 29 to 38 million.
Whatever concerns experts have about Apple’s challenges, the shares still trade near an all-time high at $188. That is up 9% for the year, about the same rise as the Nasdaq. Apple’s market cap is an extraordinary $923 billion, and many forecasters believe it will reach $1 trillion this year, a first in the history of U.S. markets
Those betting against Apple’s share price have stated that the long sweep of iPhone replacements will slow, as more people hold on to their current models in favor of annual upgrades. This may be because iPhones have become too expensive, or that their generational improvements are not as significant as they used to be. How fast does a phone have to run? How good does its camera have to be?
Apple has two problems with the tariff war with China. It sources many of its parts there. And Chinese sales of iPhones, Macs and its smartwatch products are critical to Apple’s long-term success. Despite competition from local smartphone companies and global rival Samsung, Apple’s market share in China is impressive, mainly since the iPhone is often sold at a price that is premium to the market.
Short sellers do need to be concerned that a new iteration of many Mac products may help it push further into the PC, laptop, and tablet markets, ones that Apple traditionally did not dominate, at least until the launch of the iPad. Apple does face stiff competition from Microsoft in the tablet space, but not enough to make a big enough threat to Apple’s total revenue, which is expected to top $250 billion this year. Its net income also continues to rise and will move above $50 billion in the same period.
The case for Apple seems to be greater than the case against, and the short interest shows that.