As investors look to Apple for signs it can continue to grow, the company had better news than many expected, posting a quarter that outdid its performance a year ago. But sales of the iPad were down 16 percent.
Apple reported earnings of $10.2 billion, or $11.62 per share on $45.6 billion in revenue during a quarter that saw the release of no new products. That was above both the $42 to $44 billion in revenue Apple forecast for itself in January, and the $43.6 billion it reported the same time this last year. The company also announced a seven-for-one stock split, with a $90 billion stock buyback program.
As usual, the thrust of that revenue came from iPhone sales. Apple said it sold 43.7 million iPhones during the quarter, up from the 37.4 million it sold during the same quarter last year. Apple also said it sold 16.3 million iPads, 4.1 million Macs, and 2.76 million iPods. That's a higher number than the 3.9 million Macs Apple sold in its previous second quarter, but down big from the 19.5 million iPads it reported.
"We're eagerly looking forward to introducing more new products."
"We're very proud of our quarterly results, especially our strong iPhone sales and record revenue from services," Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a statement. "We're eagerly looking forward to introducing more new products and services that only Apple could bring to market."
For its next quarter, which ends in June, Apple said it expects to bring in between $36 to $38 billion in revenue, which is up from the $35.3 billion it made during the same quarter a year ago, though lower than the $38.3 billion Wall Street forecasted.
The news sent Apple's stock to $564.47 a share, up $39.72 or 7.57 percent, in after hours trading. Wall Street was expecting earnings of $10.17 per share on revenue $43.5 billion.
Apple's gross margin, or the amount the company makes after all costs are accounted for, came in at 39.3 percent. That's higher than the 37 to 38 percent the company forecast when reporting its previous quarter in January. It's also one of the most closely-watched numbers Apple reports since it's a key indicator not only of how Apple keeps its costs down, but also how it can grow its profits.
Just two years ago, Apple's margins hit 47.4 percent, but have hovered some 10 percent lower for the past year. In recent quarterly calls with analysts, Apple's outgoing CFO Peter Oppenheimer has said this decline was due to higher costs of its products, changes in currency, and adjustments to the way the company does its accounting.
One other closely watched metric is iPad sales, which were down 16 percent from the 19.5 million the company sold during the same quarter last year. Wall Street was expecting a modest improvement of 20 to 22 million units sold. In a call with analysts, Apple's VP of finance Luca Maestri said the company viewed the drop in sales as closer to a 3 percent decline due to year-over-year channel inventory changes. Cook also chimed in, trying to put the overall sales of the iPad in comparison with the company's other products.
"We've come a long way, very very quickly."
"We've sold over 210 million, which is more than we or anyone thought was possible in that period of time," Cook told analysts. "That's almost twice as many iPhones as we've sold in a comparable amount of time ... we've come a long way, very very quickly."
The larger issue is the iPad's role as a replacement for traditional computers, including the Mac. The iPad began outselling Macs the same year it was introduced, but both its growth and the overall rise of tablets has slowed. According to a report released by IDC in January, much of the reason for that has centered on "high levels of consumer saturation" for tablets in the US.
Apple also said it would repurchase $90 billion in stock, up from the $60 billion the company announced last year. It also announced plans to split its stock seven ways on June 2nd, 2014, giving each shareholder an additional six shares. Trading on that split stock will begin on June 9th, 2014, the company said. The last time Apple split its stock was in 2005; the company also did it in 2000 and 1987.
Despite the investor-friendly moves like an increased buyback and stock split, some have expressed caution, saying that Apple's masking poor fundamentals, namely the company's continued lack of earnings growth and new products. That includes lowered guidance for its full year.
Apple is under a microscope
Apple is under a microscope, with worries the company's biggest growth is behind it. While the iPhone and iPad vaulted sales and profits up, the rate at which those two products have grown has slowed. The big expectation for future growth comes from new product categories, be it a new wearable device or an upgraded set top box.
Apple CEO Tim Cook has hinted at neither, though has vaguely (and repeatedly) said that the company is hard at work on new products.
In the meantime, revamped versions of existing Apple products are expected at the company's annual developers conference in early June. Last year that brought new versions of OS X and iOS, along with upgraded MacBook Air and MacBook Pro models. Apple also previewed a redesigned Mac Pro that went on sale six months later. Ahead of this year's show Apple has promised new versions of OS X and iOS, but nothing else.
Update April 23rd, 6PM: To note that iPad sales were down 16 percent year over year.