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The big questions for Apple (AAPL) won’t be answered until this fall when investors get to see the new iPhone (and see how hot or not it is) and learn whether or not Apple’s suppliers are indeed having trouble manufacturing key components such as the OLED display.
Apple still remains a stock where the future is much more important than the present.
But that doesn’t mean the earnings just reported for the June quarter (the third quarter of the company’s fiscal year) aren’t important. Maybe as important for the technology sector as a whole as for Apple’s shares themselves.
And the earnings that Apple reported after the market close today are good enough to boost both the stock and the spirits of technology investors–who have been feeling a little uncertain lately after disappointing earnings from Amazon (AMZN) led to a sell off in that stock.
Apple reported earnings of $1.67 a share, 10 cents a share better than the Wall Street consensus. Revenue climbed 7.2% year over year to $45.41, slightly ahead of analyst projections for $44.94 billion. Gross margins of 38.5% were slightly above estimates of 38.2% and ahead of the 38% reported last year for this quarter.
Apple sold 41 million iPhones in the quarter. That’s significantly below the 47.5 million units sold in the June quarter of 2016, but just slightly below the 41.1 million that Wall Street was expecting. In other words, Wall Street thought that iPhone sales this quarter would lag last year’s pace and Apple has reassured investors by meeting those lowered expectations.
Next quarter? When the new iPhone should be contributing at least something to sales?
The company issued rather vague guidance for revenue of somewhere between $49 and $52 billion. Wall Street is looking for revenue of $49.23 billion. That means the high end of Apple’s range is significantly above the Wall Street consensus. But a range is still a range.
In its conference call Apple pushed the right buttons. Revenue was up 7% year over year, which meant this was the third consecutive quarter of accelerating growth, said Tim Cook, Apple CEO. (Wall Street had been shocked back in 2016 when Apple failed to produce year over year quarterly revenue growth so Cook was telling Wall Street that the Apple growth machine was back in business–even if running at a modest pace.) Cook also announced that the quarter set an all time record for service revenue. (Apple has been telling analysts to focus on the growth of high margin and predictable service revenue in the company’s mix.)
The stock was up 6.2% in after hours trading as of 6 p.m. New York time to $159.09. So far Apple’s results haven’t done much to power ahead the rest of the big tech stocks. For example, Amazon, which squeezed out of 0.85% gain during the regular session, was up 0.38% in after hours trading. But at least tomorrow’s trading will begin without any worries that Apple is about to disappoint–for this quarter anyway.
I haven’t found anything yet that sheds any light on the iPhone schedule for the fall. But I’ll keep looking.