Apple Briefly Falls Below $1 Trillion In Market Valuation On Weak Guidance — Updated


Apple’s market valuation briefly dipped below the $1 trillion mark in after-hours trading, as the stock fell on weak guidance for the holiday quarter.

The company’s stock ticked downward as soon as Apple released its fourth fiscal quarter results, in which it set records for earnings and revenue, thanks to higher iPhone prices and strong app-store sales.

The stock fell further when Apple told investors, during its earnings call, that it would no longer release unit sales of its various devices. The stock has since rebounded.

Apple reported earnings of $2.91 per share in the September, topping analysts’ consensus estimates of per share earnings of $2.78. That’s a gain of 41% from a year ago.

Revenue for the fall quarter reached $62.9 billion, up 20% from a year ago and exceeding forecasts of $61.57 billion. The company’s service revenue, which includes the App Store, iTunes and Apple Pay, reached an all-time high of $10 billion.

“We’re thrilled to report another record-breaking quarter that caps a tremendous fiscal 2018, the year in which we shipped our 2 billionth iOS device, celebrated the 10th anniversary of the App Store and achieved the strongest revenue and earnings in Apple’s history,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook in a statement.

Still, the stock sagged 6% in after-hours trading, falling to $207.25 a share, as investors reacted with disappointment to the company’s guidance for holiday quarter. The company said it expects revenue of between $89 billion and $93 billion in its first quarter of fiscal 2019. The low end of that guidance fails to meet analysts’ projections of $92.91 billion.

Wall Street was keeping an eye on iPhone sales, which account for roughly 60% of the company’s revenue. Apple reported that it sold 46.9 million iPhones in the fall quarter, about the same as in the same time a year ago. However, revenue was up 29% to $37.19 billion — suggesting the average selling price of each device is rising.

Apple sold fewer iPads and the Macs than a year ago, though this week it announced updates to its iPad Pro tablets and MacBook Air and Mac mini computers, in an effort to spur holiday sales. The company’s catch-all “other category,” which includes the AirPods, Apple Watch, Apple TV and other devices, reflected strong sales gains of 31% to $4.2 billion.

“Over the past two months, we’ve delivered huge advancements for our customers through new versions of iPhone, Apple Watch, iPad and Mac as well as our four operating systems, and we enter the holiday season with our strongest lineup of products and services ever,” Cook said in his prepared remarks.

Apple introduced the latest generation of smartphone, the iPhone XS and XS Max, in late September. Although the quarterly results will only include 10 days worth of sales of these devices, it will indicate how receptive consumers are to the new, higher price.

The company was the first phone-maker to crack the $1,000 price barrier with the iPhone X. It continues to test the upper limits of pricing, with the iPhone XS Max retailing for $1,099. Wall Street analysts think consumers will shrug off the price increase, just as they did with the iPhone X.

“The data points and tea leaves from the supply chain/store checks re clearly positive so far, as we believe XR demand is handily exceeding the (iPhone) 8/8+ trajectory from the year ago,” wrote Wedbush Securities analyst Daniel Ives.

Ives projects these newest iPhones could account for 45% of all iPhones sold in fiscal year 2019. IT could prove the linchpin around Cupertino’s success in the China market, where as many as 70 million iPhones could be ready for an upgrade.

Apple’s third quarter results helped the company top $1 trillion in market capitalization. Services and Apple’s wearable devices — dubbed the “other products” in the company’s financials — were the highlight of Apple’s quarterly results.

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