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Apple, Dell, HP Seen by Fitch as Potential Chinese Blacklist Candidates Amid Huawei Retaliation

3:39PM ET 6/10/2019 MT Newswires
Apple (AAPL), Dell Technologies (DELL) and HP (HPQ) are potential candidates for a blacklist of "unreliable entities" in China as American companies could face retaliation for US restrictions on Huawei Technologies, Fitch Ratings said in a note.

The Asian nation, the world's second-biggest economy, is a significant market for the three firms but are key competitors to Chinese companies including Huawei for smartphones and Lenovo for personal computers, Fitch said on Monday.

"However, Lenovo depends on processors from US-based Intel and AMD, which effectively control the global PC chip market," the ratings firm's analysts said. "A ban on Dell and HP could have negative consequences for China should it lead to US retaliation."

China and the US have been locked in a trade dispute for more than a year, and as tensions have risen since the US effectively banned American companies from sending parts to Huawei over national security concerns. But Fitch said the move to give US suppliers to Huawei a 90-day temporary license is probably why China hasn't actually published its own blacklist.

Sales generated in China represented 20% or higher of annual revenue last year for Texas Instruments (TXN), Flex (FLEX), Intel (INTC), Western Digital (WDC) and Jabil Circuit (JBL), Fitch said, citing Factset data.

Qualcomm (QCOM), Cisco Systems (CSCO) and Alphabet's (GOOGL) Google are less likely to see sanctions as China is dependent on their technologies, Fitch said. Android is the main operating system for Chinese smartphones, Qualcomm supplies application processors for almost 50% of the global smartphone market and China relies on Cisco's network switching equipment for its tech infrastructure.

A ban on shipments of rare earth metals, which are used in goods from memory chips and cell phones to catalytic converters and military devices, could raise prices and bring higher raw materials costs for US chipmakers. Fitch cited the US Geological Survey as saying 71% of rare earth metals were produced in China last year and US production is minimal.

"Given the long time for mine development, a China ban would have a meaningful effect on prices paid by US companies," the ratings firm said.

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