Apple boosts buybacks, earnings beat on strong iPhone sales

28.04.2015 05:20
Everett Rosenfeld |

Apple reported quarterly earnings and revenue that beat analysts’ expectations.

The company reported second-quarter earnings of $2.33 per share on revenue of $58 billion on Monday. Analysts expected tech giant Apple to report earnings of $2.16 a share and $56.08 billion in revenue, according to a consensus estimate from Thomson Reuters.

During the same period last year, Apple posted earnings of $1.66 per share on $45.6 billion in revenue.

Read MoreApple’s beat: ‘These are amazing numbers’

The firm also announced Monday that it would expand its capital return program to $200 billion from a previously announced $130 billion. This estimated figure comes from Apple increasing its share repurchase authorization to $140 billion from the $90 billion announced last year, and boosting its dividend 11 percent to 52 cents per share. The planned program goes through March of 2017, Apple said.

CEO Tim Cook said on the firm’s earnings call that the buyback reflects “our strong confidence in what lies ahead for Apple.”

The tech giant said its cash horde had risen to a record $193.5 billion—over $171 billion of which was located offshore. Last quarter the total cash figure came in at $178 billion, according to the company.

Apple’s stock rose more than 1 percent in after-hours trading immediately following the Monday announcements.

“How long do we ride this rally? As long as possible,” said Ross Gerber, CEO of Gerber Kawasaki.

As for its devices, Apple said that it had sold 61.17 million iPhones, compared to a StreetAccount consensus estimate of 57.26 million. Apple CFO Luca Maestri said demand for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus “has remained incredibly strong.”

The company said it sold 12.62 million iPads, compared to expectations of 13.94 million. Mac units came in at 4.6 million (compared to a 4.64 million estimate).

Cook touted the year-over-year growth of its Mac products while much of the personal computer industry languishes.

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“We are thrilled by the continued strength of iPhone, Mac and the App Store, which drove our best March quarter results ever,” Cook said in an earnings release.

“We’re seeing a higher rate of people switching to iPhone than we’ve experienced in previous cycles, and we’re off to an exciting start to the June quarter with the launch of Apple Watch,” he added.

Cook told CNBC that he is “very confident” that iPad sales “will come back” (although he declined to predict on the call when this would occur), and he also said he’s happy with the Apple Watch performance so far.

The CEO said on the call that the response to the new wearable device has been “overwhelmingly positive,” and boasted of the more then 3,500 apps that are already available for the product. He later added that demand is “hard to gauge,” but it is outstripping supply for the product. The company anticipates selling the Apple Watch in additional countries by June, he said.

Maestri said that margins on the wearable product will be lower than company average.

The technology giant officially began its next major product line when the Apple Watch became publicly available last week (about 22 percent had shipped, according to a Sunday estimate). But analysts were watching the mix of iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus sales to see if consumers would be spending on the more expensive models.

The average selling price (ASP) of iPhones, a metric showing how many pricier models sold, came in at $659 compared to the average analyst estimate of about $654.

“The watch is good to talk about. It’s good to talk about Apple Pay and some of these other initiatives. But at the end of the day [Apple stock is] really going to trade for the balance of the year on the strength of the iPhone,” Brian Blair, managing director at Rosenblatt Securities, told CNBC.

About 20 percent of Apple’s active install base has upgraded to an iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus, Cook said, adding he expects there is room for many more upgrades.

The iPhone ASP figure represented an increase of $62 year-over year, Maestri said, touting on the call that this occurred despite “very significant foreign exchange headwinds.”

Maestri said that the currency impact to the second quarter came in as expected: A negative impact of about 100 basis-points after the effect of Apple’s hedges. “Of course we expect this headwind to continue,” he said, adding that the company expects another 40 basis-points of negative impact from currency.

The CFO said the company is considering raising some of its prices in certain markets to address currency issues.

“I think this quarter is great, but we also didn’t have a flagship from its competitors to compete with,” Todd Haselton, managing editor at TechnoBuffalo, told CNBC’s “Closing Bell,” referencing companies likeSamsung and Xiaomi.

Cook said on the company’s earnings call that the App Store had its best quarter ever, including a record revenue on 29 percent year-over-year growth. In the Greater China region, the App Store grew about 100 percent year-over-year, Cook said.

Apple Pay, the firm’s big bet on mobile payment, is expanding to Discover card members, Cook said—meaning that the system now includes every major card company. The CEO said he is seeing “great momentum” for Apple Pay.

As for its global profile, Apple said that it saw $16.82 billion in second-quarter revenues from Greater China—an increase from $16.14 billion last quarter. This was a 71 percent year-over-year jump for Chinese revenue.

Read MoreOnly 22% of Apple Watches have shipped: Report

Maestri said the company added six new retail stores to Greater China this past quarter—bringing the total to 21 stores in 11 cities. He said Apple is on track to have 40 stores open in the region by the middle of next year.

Cook said he is “really proud” of the results in China—which also included 31 percent sales growth in Macs (on top of contracting PC sales in the country), and the iPad’s best quarter ever in the mainland.

“Everything you look at in China was extremely good,” Cook said, adding that he had never seen as many new people coming into the middle class as in the region.

Apple said Monday that it expects its fiscal third quarter revenue to be between $46 billion and $48 billion. Gross margins are expected to be between 38.5 and 39.5 percent, the company said.

—Reuters and CNBC’s Matthew Belvedere and Cadie Thompson contributed to this report.





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