Chinese interest in Apple's iPhone seems to be waning as fewer consumers search for the smart phone online, according to Longbow Research.
The number of iPhone searches on Chinese search engine Baidu plummeted 48 percent in February, slightly less than the 50 percent plunge in January, Longbow said. It was the fifth consecutive month of decline. The lackluster search trends came even after Chinese retailers slashed iPhone prices.
"Multiple iPhone price cuts did not stop China iPhone search trends from weakening further while February supplier sales were abysmal," Longbow analyst Shawn Harrison said in a note Tuesday.
Baidu iPhone search trends are indicative of iPhone demand, according to the firm. It said they have a 74 percent correlation to changes in Apple's year-over-year sales in China during the past four years. The searches also have an 82 percent correlation to iPhone shipments into China, Longbow said.
Apple's iPhone sales in China decreased 5 percent year over year in February and more than 30 percent from January, Longbow said.
The firm kept its neutral rating for Apple and expects earnings of $11 per share in fiscal year of 2019.
"We remain neutral since without iPhone demand acceleration on the horizon, we currently do not see any catalysts near term to drive significant EPS upside," Harrison said.