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Foxconn reports fall in Feb sales, sticks to Q1 outlook

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Foxconn is seen outside a company's building in Taipei, Taiwan

TAIPEI (Reuters) - Taiwan's Foxconn, the world's largest contract electronics maker and major iPhone assembler for Apple, said on Sunday revenue in February fell 11.65% year-on-year due to weakness in smart consumer electronics, but stuck to its first quarter outlook.

Revenue last month still managed to reach the second highest on record for February at T$402.0 billion ($13.18 billion), with operations returning to normal at the COVID-disrupted Zhengzhou campus in China, a centre for iPhone production, the company said in a statement.

Production of iPhones faced disruption ahead of Christmas and January's Lunar New Year holidays, after curbs to control COVID-19 prompted thousands of workers to leave Foxconn's factory lines in Zhengzhou.

Compared to the previous month, revenue dropped 39.12%, although cumulative sales for the first two months of the year jumped on-year 17.94% thanks to January's particularly strong performance when Zhengzhou operations began getting back on track.

For smart consumer electronics products, which includes smartphones, revenue in February fell year-on-year "due to conservative customers' pull-in", it said, without giving details.

Analysts say Foxconn assembles around 70% of iPhones. The Zhengzhou plant produces the majority of Apple's premium models, including the iPhone 14 Pro.

"Based on the revenue performance in the first two months, the outlook for first quarter 2023 is roughly in line with market expectation," Foxconn said without elaborating.

Analysts expect first-quarter revenue to grow by around 4% year-on-year, according to Refinitiv. The first quarter is traditionally a quieter period for Taiwan's tech manufacturers.

Apple Inc last month forecast its revenue would fall for a second quarter in a row but that iPhone sales were likely to improve as production had returned to normal in China after the COVID-related shutdowns.

Foxconn shares have risen 2.6% so far this year, underperforming the broader Taiwan market which is up 10.4%.

The company reports fourth-quarter earnings on March 15, when it will also elaborate on its outlook.

($1 = 30.4980 Taiwan dollars)

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by William Mallard and Tom Hogue)