Protesters picketed Foxconn's annual general meeting in Hong Kong on Tuesday, accusing the computer giant that services companies like Apple Inc of poor corporate ethics after a recent spate of suicides at Foxconn factories on the mainland.
The 30 demonstrators held signs saying, "Workers are not machines. They have self-esteem," outside a hotel function room where shareholders of Hong Kong-listed Foxconn International Holdings Ltd were meeting.
They also targeted Apple Inc, waving a cardboard cutout of Chief Executive Steve Jobs with devil's horns, and another placard featuring the company logo and the words "Bloody Apple".
Eleven workers killed themselves and three attempted suicide at Foxconn's operations in China this year, mainly workers who jumped from buildings.
Protesters also laid white flowers at an Apple retail store in a tribute to the dead workers. Organizer Debby Chan accused Foxconn of poor management, urging the Taiwanese manufacturer of iPhones to raise wages and let workers set up an independent union.
Foxconn, the world's largest contract maker of electronics, has announced two pay raises for their Chinese workers after the recent suicides.
However, out of investors' fear that the wage hikes may cut Foxconn's annual financial results, trading in shares of Foxconn International, the listed arm of Foxconn, finished at HK$5.38 by midday on Tuesday, down 4.95 percent after plunging as much as 8.66 percent in the morning session.
Hong Kong-based securities analysts and economists said the two salary hikes in just one week would increase its operating costs and would have an impact against its annual financial results in 2010, and of course, its share price.
Macquarie Group, an international financial company, said in a note that Foxconn took the market by surprise when it announced two salary hikes in one week, which is expected to significantly impact Foxconn's profits this year.
Macquarie again put Foxconn International's rating at "under-performing" and cut its target price from HK$5.3 to HK$4.6.
At the same time, Foxconn said it will seek higher prices from its clients to help offset wage hikes.
Meeting shareholders in Hong Kong for the first time since the deaths, executives at Foxconn, owned by Taiwan's Hon Hai Precision Industry, said the company hoped to reach a consensus with customers this month.
Analysts said already razor-thin margins at Foxconn and Hon Hai would likely suffer as they wait to pass on the cost increases, and shares in both companies continued to slide, taking losses over the past two days to more than 10 percent each.
"In the near term, it's quite unlikely they can pass the cost increase to customers, but in longer term it is reasonable ... that customers may need to share part of the cost," said Chialin Lu, analyst at Macquarie Equities Research in Taipei.
"It will have bigger (earnings) impact especially in the second half of this year as most of the salary raises will come into effect in July."
Earlier reports said Apple Inc would subsidize 1 to 2 percent of its profit from iPad products to help Foxconn offset the wage hikes.