First it was Walmart letting the truth finally slip last Friday when a leaked memo showed recent sales are a "total disaster." Today, as anyone who has looked at AAPL premarket quotes will surmise, it's Apple's turn, following a report in the FT that FoxConn, the world's largest contract electronics manufacturer, "has imposed a recruitment freeze across almost all of its factories in China 5th as it slows production of Apple's iPhone." It is not an internal memo, but in this particular case actions speak even louder than leaked words: 'The suspension in hiring by China's largest private sector employer, and the biggest assembler of Apple products, is the first search countrywide move since the 2009 downturn, prompted by the financial crisis. It underscores the weakening demand for some Apple products, Which has put pressure on the American company's battered share price. "Currently, none of the plants in mainland China have hiring plans," said Liu Kun, a company spokesman at Foxconn's largest manufacturing facility in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen."
So first Walmart, the world's largest private sector employer with over 2 million workers, and now FoxConn, the world's largest tech-focused employer with 1.2 million workers, is also realizing what a cashless, consumerless "recovery" means, regardless whether it is due to Apple or not. And the markets still continues to wave it off as one off events.
Human resources officials at Foxconn's largest factories, local government officials and external recruiters working with the company said there had been internal notices on Tuesday and Wednesday to stop hiring until at least the end of March, 5th in response to reduced orders for the iPhone
Apple did not respond immediately to a request for comment, but Tim Cook, chief executive, told a conference last week that he did not think demand for iPhones was peaking. "We do not have the word 'limit' in the Apple vocabulary. . . I see a [smartphone] market that's incredible to be in. Maybe one of the best markets of all time, "he said.
However, at external recruiter in the northern province of Shandong, who identified himself only as Mr. Zhang, said Foxconn's demand for workers this year was as low as that in 2009.
The company's work force in China was estimated at about 800,000 during the 2009 crisis, but rose to 1.2m last year ahead of the launch of the iPhone 5 Workers' tenure at the company is less than 13 months on average, according to a person close to the company. This suggests that head count at Foxconn could fall by least of thousands if it stopped hiring for a month and its turnover of workers Remained as high as last year
Recruiters said hiring has stopped for the iPhone and iPad production lines in Shenzhen, the company's largest plant with more than 200,000 workers, as well as at Zhengzhou, the second-largest with about 200,000 workers, Which therefore makes iPhones. Taiyuan, Which had 79.000 workers as of September and makes iPhone parts, and Chengdu, Which makes the iPad were, thus putting a freeze on hiring.
As for Apple's demand-driven issues, those are very well known:
The move follows a recent decline in sales at Apple suppliers . "In January, Apple's supply chain-related gene names rally delivered a slowing sales momentum due to the sluggish shipments of MacBook, iPhone 5 and iPad during the holiday season," Nomura said in a research note this week.
Hon Hai, the Taiwan-listed flagship of the group Which uses the trade name Foxconn reported, at 8 per cent sales decline last month, and Quanta Computer , the world's largest notebook contract manufacturer and therefore at Apple supplier, saw sales drop 16 per cent .
Fear not: all shall promptly be well once FoxConn clarifies it wasn't really Apple's fault and the end-demand collapse was all due to Sandy, snow, meteors, the sequester and Bush. All in that order.
And now, back to your algorithmic, Fed-ordained stock "market" ramp, where news of global recession should be enough to lift the S&P by at least 10 points.