J.P. Morgan drops Apple, Qualcomm from top picks as tech demand slows

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April 1 (Reuters) - Slowing demand for smartphones is likely to hit growth at Apple (AAPL.O) and chipmaker Qualcomm (QCOM.O), analysts at J.P. Morgan said on Friday as they dropped the companies from the list of most preferred stocks.

The removal from the brokerage's "Analyst Focus List" comes as analysts warn that fresh coronavirus lockdowns in China and rising cost of goods due to the Ukraine conflict could hurt smartphone demand in 2022.

Analyst Samik Chatterjee said a moderation in consumer spending would temper higher expectation from the recent iPhone SE launch, while a slowdown in gaming in China could weigh on Apple's services.

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Apple is already planning to lower iPhone and AirPod production due to a demand slowdown, the Nikkei newspaper reported on Monday. read more

Qualcomm, meanwhile, will likely bear the brunt of weakness in the smartphone market for low- to mid-end Android handsets, Chatterjee said.

"There has been understandably a lot of noise around demand weakness across global tech, but we believe the macro weakness seeping through the sector will impact the consumer end-markets more materially," he said.

The brokerage still rates Apple and Qualcomm "overweight" — the equivalent of a "buy" rating — based on their longer-term potential.

J.P. Morgan said in an environment of slowing consumer demand it has added to its list network equipment companies Arista Networks (ANET.N) and Ciena (CIEN.N) on hopes of a more resilient demand for telecom and cloud-related spending.

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Reporting by Aniruddha Ghosh and Siddarth S in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur

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