Apple CEO Cook ‘optimistic’ China has the coronavirus under control

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CEO of Apple Tim Cook attends China Development Forum 2019 at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse on March 23, 2019 in Beijing, China.

VCG | Getty Images

Apple CEO Tim Cook said on Thursday that he believes that China is getting the situation related to the COVID-19 coronavirus under control.

“I mean, if you look at the numbers, they’re coming day by day by day. So I’m very optimistic there,” Cook said in an interview with Fox Business.

Although the majority of COVID-19 cases have been in China, officials have started to report declines in new cases in recent days.

Cook’s optimistic remarks are one of the first signs that China’s supply chain has started to get back to work. Apple warned in February that it will not meet its March quarter sales forecast because the coronavirus could hurt iPhone supply around the world, as well as lower demand in China related to the coronavirus.

Apple assembles the vast majority of iPhones and buys a substantial number of parts in China, and factories in the country have been slow to get back to full production after the Lunar New Year holiday because of quarantines and a shortage of labor.

“When you look at the parts that are done in China, we have reopened factories, so the factories are working through the conditions to open. They’re reopening,” Cook said.

However, Cook said that he believes the focus has turned away from China and onto Korea and Italy, which are reporting rapidly rising numbers of coronavirus cases.

“Our supply chain is relatively more important in China, but we have great business and suppliers in Korea, and suppliers in Italy and a great business there as well,” Cook said. “We need to see as that unfolds.”

Apple briefly dipped into bear market territory on Friday, which means that shares were down more than 20% from its all-time high of $327.85 per share on Jan. 29. Apple shares were down more than 1% on Friday.

Cook appeared confident, calling the coronavirus a “temporary condition” and not a “long term kind of thing.” He noted that the lower share prices could be a good thing for Apple, given that it’s currently buying back its own stock.

“Everyone knows we’re buying shares and when the stock is lower you get more shares for the same money,” Cook said.

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