3 Tech Stock Titans Grappling With Fresh China Challenges

Stocks to sell

China is a conundrum. With 900 million people, the country is the world’s biggest consumer market and United States companies love tapping into it. Whether it’s a new expansion opportunity or just a way to stave off slowing growth in more mature and saturated markets, companies eagerly do business there. Yet it’s problematic, too. Just ask these tech stock titans.

Foremost is China’s use of slave labor. Human Rights Watch says the government uses Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslim communities in forced labor camps. Products including car parts, solar panels and apparel from businesses such as PDD Holdings‘ (NASDAQ:PDD) Temu and Schein are regularly sold in the U.S. And American companies as wide-ranging as Nike (NYSE:NKE) and Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) have endured scrutiny for tainting their supply chains by using forced labor products.

The ongoing war in Ukraine also helped raise tensions between Washington and Beijing that spilled over into trade issues. President Biden imposed restrictions on the sale of semiconductors and advanced technology to China which retaliated with restrictions of its own. Not just in computer chips but by subsidizing local companies to challenge sales by U.S. corporations. Other businesses are simply prohibited from operating there. Twitter and Facebook are two companies banned over free speech fears.

These three tech stocks facing China challenges face very high hurdles to spur sales growth.

Intel (INTC)

Source: Sundry Photography / Shutterstock.com

One of the most high-profile fallouts from heightened trade tensions is China blocking Intel‘s (NASDAQ:INTC) chips from beiung used in government computers and servers. Reminiscent of the arguments U.S. politicians are using to ban TikTok or force its sale, China issued a list of “safe and reliable” CPUs, databases and operating systems companies could use. The products were all from Chinese companies.

Also caught up in the ban are chips from Advanced Micro Devices (NASDAQ:AMD) and Microsoft‘s (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows operating system. But it’s a heavy blow to Intel, which was looking to China expansion to revitalize its growth efforts. 

Nearly 75% of Intel’s revenue comes from outside the U.S. China represents 27% of the chipmaker’s $54.2 billion total revenue, or almost $15 billion. The country also represents 15% of Advanced Micro’s $23 billion revenues.

Intel’s stock is down 23% year to date as a result of disappointing guidance issued earlier this year. As trade war hawks in both political parties rail against China in an election year, don’t expect INTC stock to run much higher.  

Tesla (TSLA)

Source: Vitaliy Karimov / Shutterstock.com

It’s not just in the U.S. where the fervor for electric vehicles (EV) is subsiding. Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) saw its market share in China slip to 6.6% in the first two months of 2024 from 7.6% last year as overall EV sales slowed. Coupled with increased competition from Chinese manufacturers like BYD (OTCMKTS:BDDYF), Nio (NYSE:NIO) and Li Auto (NASDAQ:LI), the going is getting tough for Tesla.

The EV maker reported first-quarter deliveries tumbled 8.5% to 386,810 vehicles where analysts had expected 457,000 deliveries. It also marked a 20% slide in sales sequentially. However, Tesla’s consolation prize was regaining the title of world’s largest EV maker after BYD reported deliveries plummeted 43% to 300,411 vehicles.

All EV manufacturers are now locked in a price-cutting war that will likely decimate profits for the companies. Tesla slashed prices on its Model 3 and Model Y cars in China earlier this year. It also began offering cash discounts on Model Ys beginning Feb. 1. Now the EV maker is offering additional incentives on cars in China, including insurance, paint colors and financing options. It’s likely its rivals will respond as they did to Tesla’s earlier buyer enticements.

Tesla stock is down 34% year-to-date and could go lower as sales slow and discounting heats up. Drop this and the other tech stock titans we mentioned.

Apple (AAPL)

Source: Eric Broder Van Dyke / Shutterstock.com

The third tech stock facing China challenges is Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL). It saw iPhone shipments tumble 33% in February, according to Bloomberg News. There were only 2.4 million devices shipped that month but the number was affected by China’s Lunar New Year holiday. As Apple is the only cross-border company with a sizable market share in China, it bore the brunt of the decline.

The tech giant has been working overtime to smooth relations in the country. CEO Tim Cook recently traveled to China to meet with government officials and open a new flagship store in Shanghai. He promised to increase Apple’s investment in China in the long run. With the new iPhone 16 due out later this year, Cook wants to ensure the road to sales is paved before its debut.

Apple also recently reached a $490 million settlement with plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit. They alleged Cook lied to shareholders in 2019 by concealing just how bad the iPhone was selling in China. Apple surprised the market by slashing quarterly revenue forecasts by $9 billion on declining demand in China. The situation is emblematic of the ongoing difficulty U.S. companies face when doing business there.

Apple stock is down 12% so far this year. This and the other tech stock titans we have mentioned need to be dropped soon.

On the date of publication, Rich Duprey did not hold (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.

Rich Duprey has written about stocks and investing for the past 20 years. His articles have appeared on Nasdaq.com, The Motley Fool, and Yahoo! Finance, and he has been referenced by U.S. and international publications, including MarketWatch, Financial Times, Forbes, Fast Company, USA Today, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Cheddar News, The Boston Globe, L’Express, and numerous other news outlets.

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