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Apple's stock may be down, but there could be an upside surprise in China

  • Over the weekend, Barron's published a bullish feature predicting that Apple would become a trillion-dollar company next year.
  • Then a report from a Taiwanese newspaper, citing unnamed sources, said that Apple will lower its iPhone X forecast, and shares fell.
  • Although the overall sentiment is down, "there could be some upside surprises to iPhone X" in China, said Hans Tung of GGV Capital.

The past few days have been dizzying for Apple investors. But one expert told CNBC on Tuesday that he's keeping his focus on iPhone X sales in China.

"Based on reports that we have seen, there definitely is a lot of concern on how the X will do," said Hans Tung of GGV Capital, a technology investment firm that focuses on the convergence of the U.S. and Chinese economies. "But looking at China, the early indication for the second largest market for iPhone is that it's doing surprisingly well in the first weeks of sales."

Tung's remarks on "Squawk Alley" come amid a flurry of speculation around Apple's future. Over the weekend, Barron's published a bullish feature predicting that Apple would become a trillion-dollar company next year. The story may have been validating optimists, but it also inspired Apple bears to proclaim that the stock was now "jinxed."

Then a report from a Taiwanese newspaper, citing unnamed sources, said that Apple will lower its forecast for its flagship phone in the first quarter. By midday Tuesday, the headlines had shaved more than $20 billion from Apple's market valuation.

Apple doesn't usually comment on market rumors, but according to Reuters, CEO Tim Cook said earlier this month that he "couldn't be happier" with iPhone X demand in China.

Lunar New Year, which falls in mid-February this year, also has historically been a boon for Apple.

Nonetheless, Reuters found that social media hype for the iPhone X has not kept up with that of the iPhone 6 released in 2014. GBH Insights analyst Daniel Ives also told CNBC that he had seen "soft spots" in China, noting that the hefty price tag had made the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus more attractive, relative to the iPhone X.

Tung said if Apple doesn't continue to add more "breakthrough features and designs," it will become harder in China, where Android is commoditizing iOS. Brands like Huawei and Oppo undercut Apple's prices, and WeChat offers more and more software features to mobile users in China.

But Tung said that although the overall sentiment is down, "there could be some upside surprises to iPhone X" in China.

"The Face ID feature is getting some positive responses," Tung said, noting that the feature has become popular enough to inspire a joke meme. "The running joke in China ... on WeChat and Sina Weibo is that 'Face ID technology is not working perfectly — I had a photo of my favorite star in front of my iPhone X and it unlocked.'"

It's debatable whether Apple's release of the iPhone X — timed alongside the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus — is a success or failure, said Ross Gerber, CEO of Gerber Kawasaki Wealth and Investment Management. Gerber both personally owns Apple shares and owns it for his clients and firm.

But at least in China, he said, things look good.

"They wanted to create a premium experience, and it's really working well for them in China," Gerber told CNBC's "Closing Bell" on Tuesday. "There's that cachet, now, of pulling out the iPhone X."

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