(Street) Apple Shares Gain as CEO Cook Dismisses China Retaliation, US Regulatory Risks

(Street) Apple shares were indicated higher in pre-market trading Wednesday after CEO Tim Cook told CBS News that he didn’t think his company would be targeted by China should the ongoing trade war between Washington and Beijing escalated further into the tech sector.M

Apple Inc. (AAPL) shares were indicated higher in pre-market trading Wednesday after CEO Tim Cook told CBS News that he didn’t think his company would be targeted by China should the ongoing trade war between Washington and Beijing escalated further into the tech sector.

Cook told CBS’s Norah O’Donnell on the sidelines of the Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference that while he could not rule out the possibility of a retaliation from China following last month’s decision by the Treasury Department to blacklist Huawei Technologies from doing business with U.S. companies, he doesn’t anticipate it.

“Well, currently, the Chinese have not targeted Apple at all. And I don’t anticipate that happening, to be honest,” Cook said, adding that levies on iPhones assembled in China but shipped to the United States would likely impact sales of its most important product. 

“I’m hoping that doesn’t happen. And I don’t anticipate it happening. I know people think the iPhone is made in China,” Cook said. “The iPhone is assembled in China. The truth is, the iPhone is made everywhere. It’s made everywhere. And so a tariff on the iPhone would hurt all of those countries, but the one that would be hurt the most is this one.”

“We’ve had a company in China for a long time. And so, there is a, I believe, a healthy level of respect for both sides,” Cook said. “And so I don’t anticipate that happening. But I’m not promising that it will not, but I don’t anticipate it.”

Apple shares were marked 1.6% higher in pre-market trading Wednesday, indicating an opening bell price of $182.51 each, a move that would trim the stock’s one-month loss to around 14%.

Last month, Goldman Sachs analysts pegged the downside risk to Apple’s earnings, based on its China exposure, at around 29%, adding that a move to restrict iPhone production in China would force it to move elsewhere, but cautioned that would take time and hurt profits. 

Cooks described having “straightforward” discussions on trade, immigration and climate change with President Donald Trump and said he was “proud” to engage regularly on those issues with the White House.

He also dismissed the idea that Apple was “too big” and took issue with suggestions from Presidential Candidate Elizabeth Warren that it had a monopoly position that would warrant action from either lawmakers or the Department of Justice. 

“I think scrutiny is good, and we’ll tell our story to anybody that we need to or wants to hear it. I feel very confident in our position” Cook said. “You know, we’re on the user’s side. We’re on the user’s side in privacy. We’re on the user’s side in trying to prevent fake news. And so we curate, and we’ve always done that.”

“We’re not an amplifier for fake news or pitting groups against one another or having porn or all this other kind of stuff. This is not what we’re about, and we’ve never been about that,” he added.