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Tim Cook wants Wall Street to focus on Apple's happy customers

Tim Cook cares a lot about the happiness of Apple's customers—even if they're not upgrading their iPhones ...

Posted: Jan. 9, 2019 10:14 AM
Updated: Jan. 9, 2019 10:14 AM

Tim Cook cares a lot about the happiness of Apple's customers—even if they're not upgrading their iPhones as quickly as he might like.

Speaking Tuesday during an interview on the CNBC program "Mad Money," Apple's CEO repeatedly touted customer satisfaction and loyalty as two of the three most important things to the company (a third is innovation).

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The number of iPhones Apple sells in a three-month period is "far down" his list, he said, and if existing customers are pleased with Apple's products but don't want to buy a new handset now, they will eventually replace it with another.

"I want the customer to be happy." He said. "We work for them."

The interview comes less than a week after Apple warned investors to expect lower sales from the holiday quarter due mainly to "lower than anticipated" iPhone sales in China amid an ongoing trade war with the United States. It also cited factors such as the company offering its customers cheaper iPhone battery replacements.

China is an enormous market for Apple, making up nearly 20% of its global revenue. After decades of expansion, the Chinese economy is slowing down. Growth in 2018 is set to be the weakest since 1990. And 2019 looks even worse. The world's second largest economy, China is feeling the effects of a darkening trade outlook and government attempts to rein in risky lending after a rapid rise in debt levels.

Not surprisingly, Apple's lowered revenue expectations rattled investors, and its stock sank. And the company's valuation has fallen 40% to $715 billion from an all-time high last year of almost $1.2 trillion.

Cook said on Tuesday that trade-war tension with the United States led to a "more sharp downturn" in the Chinese economy, but that he believes it is temporary.

As for investors' response to Apple's quarterly guidance last week, he said the stock market is "quite emotional in the short term."

"We think about the long term," he said. "And so when I look at the long-term health of the company, it has never been better."

Cook's compensation as an executive may reflect his optimism. An SEC filing on Tuesday indicated that Cook received a 22% pay raise last year. He took home $15.7 million, including a $3 million salary and $12 million cash bonus. Cook made a total of $12.8 million in 2017.

He and all other Apple executives received their full bonuses and compensation last fiscal year, which ended in September -- before concerns about slumping demand for iPhones and the slowdown of the Chinese economy.

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