Law firm explores class action against Apple for potential securities fraud, cites recent earnings cut

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Self-professed "nationally acclaimed investor rights law firm" Bernstein Liebhard on Wednesday said it is investigating allegations of potential securities fraud violations on behalf of Apple shareholders, noting the company's recent earnings forecast cut runs counter to comments made on the health of its Chinese business.

Bernstein Liebhard announced — and advertised — the potential class action in a post to its website shortly after Apple lowered earnings guidance for its first fiscal quarter of 2019.

In a letter to investors, Apple CEO Tim Cook said the company is expecting to end the quarter with $84 billion in revenue, a figure down more than 7 percent from an anticipated $89 billion to $93 billion forecast issued at the end of fiscal 2018. Cook blamed the cut on weak iPhone demand in Greater China and "other emerging markets."

The statement is at odds with an appraisal of Apple's Chinese business Cook offered during an investor conference call in September, Bernstein Liebhard said. Specifically, the law firm takes umbrage with Cook's characterization of Chinese iPhone demand over the trailing quarter.

"Our business in China was very strong last quarter. We grew 16 percent, which we're very happy with. iPhone in particular was very strong, very strong double-digit growth there," Cook said at the time.

The law firm in its press release claims the statement amounts to "materially misleading business information" issued by an Apple executive.

How, exactly, Bernstein Liebhard intends to correlate two statements taken from two different time periods, and each pertaining to a respective fiscal quarter, is unclear.

Following Cook's letter on Wednesday, Apple's stock price dipped nearly $12, or or over 7.5 percent, in after-hours trading.