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Dow Jones Volatile as Boeing Pulls Back on Supersonic Efforts, Apple Plans iPhone SE Production in India, and Microsoft Acquires Data Company

By Timothy Green – Jun 18, 2020 at 1:07PM

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Boeing is taking steps to conserve cash, Apple wants to avoid tariffs, and Microsoft is expanding the capabilities of its cloud.

The volatility in the stock market continued on Thursday as two narratives -- the reopening of the U.S. economy and a surge in COVID-19 cases in various states -- collide. U.S. initial jobless claims for the week ended June 13 came in at 1.51 million, barely lower than the previous week. While the economy is recovering, that recovery will take time. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI -1.71%) was down 0.2% at 11:50 a.m. EDT.

Shares of Boeing (BA -3.39%), Apple (AAPL -3.00%), and Microsoft (MSFT -1.94%) managed small gains in the morning, despite the market's weakness. Boeing is preserving cash by pulling back on its supersonic jet efforts; Apple is planning to escape tariffs by manufacturing its latest iPhone in India; and Microsoft acquired a data model provider to pair with its Azure cloud platform.

The Aerion AS2 supersonic jet.

Image source: Aerion Supersonic.

Boeing preserves cash

With demand for air travel well below pre-pandemic levels and unlikely to fully recover anytime soon, it may be years before demand for Boeing's commercial jets picks back up. The company has been laying off workers and cutting production in an effort to preserve cash. In the first quarter of 2020, Boeing reported a negative free cash flow of $4.7 billion.

On Wednesday, The Air Current reported that Boeing has largely disbanded engineering teams working on Aerion Supersonic's AS2 business jet. Boeing invested in Aerion in 2019, and it was providing engineering, manufacturing, and flight-testing services under that deal.

The move appears to be driven by Boeing's need to conserve cash, as well as uncertainty about the recovery in air travel demand. The first flight for the AS2 jet is now scheduled for 2025, later than the original 2024 target.

Boeing stock was up about 0.5% by late Thursday morning. The stock is down roughly 50% from its 52-week high.

Apple plans to manufacture iPhone SE in India

The Information reported on Thursday that Apple is planning to manufacture its recently launched iPhone SE in India. Apple will rely on Taiwanese contract manufacturer Wistron, which currently operates factories in India.

India imposes a 20% on imported smartphones, forcing Apple to charge higher prices in the country. The move will allow Apple to drop prices on the new phone and potentially increase its market share. India is a tiny market for Apple despite its vast population. The Information reported that Apple's India sales are just $1.5 billion annually, based on local corporate filings.

With significant growth for the iPhone unlikely in saturated markets like the U.S., India represents a long-term growth opportunity for Apple. Apple stock was up about 0.3% by late morning.

Microsoft acquires data model provider

Microsoft makes some big acquisitions, like LinkedIn in 2016 and GitHub in 2018. The tech giant also makes plenty of small acquisitions meant to bolster its capabilities. On Thursday, Microsoft announced that it had acquired ADRM Software, a provider of large-scale industry data models.

The plan is to combine ADRM's data models with storage and compute from Microsoft's Azure cloud platform, providing ADRM's capabilities at scale. "[C]ompanies today are implementing data modeling on a fragmented basis, resulting in a disparate data estate that is incapable of supporting the kinds of digital transformation required today," reads Microsoft's press release.

Microsoft is the No. 2 provider of public cloud infrastructure, and building up a portfolio of high-value cloud services will help the company differentiate itself from market leader Amazon Web Services. Microsoft stock was up about 0.8% by late morning.

John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Teresa Kersten, an employee of LinkedIn, a Microsoft subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Timothy Green has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft and recommends the following options: long January 2021 $85 calls on Microsoft, short January 2021 $115 calls on Microsoft, short January 2022 $1940 calls on Amazon, and long January 2022 $1920 calls on Amazon. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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