Apple's $100 billion stock buyback overshadows iPhone

Apple Inc on Tuesday reported a hefty jump in second-quarter earnings and unveiled a new US$100 billion share buyback plan, alleviating worries about the iPhone's prospects and a hit from US-China trade tensions.

And Apple's services revenue, which includes iCloud and Apple Music subscriptions and its share of app sales, rose 31 per cent to US$9.2 billion.

Though Apple exceeded analysts' expectations in India, investors are concerned over its slowing growth in major markets such as the U.S. and China.

IPhone sales rose 2.9% to 52.2 million units, in line with analyst estimates of 52.3 million.

Apple reported second-quarter earnings of $2.73 a share, up 30 percent year-over-year, on revenues of $61.1 billion.

That came on top of $22.8 billion in buybacks executed in the prior quarter, "a record amount for any issue in any quarter", analyst Howard Silverblatt said.

Revenue from that division surged to US$9.1bn, beating last year's figure of US$8.5bn and Wall Street forecasts of US$8.4bn.

Apple also saw a growth in sales and revenue for its iPads.

"We were surprised somewhat that through all of this period of time that the iPhone X winds up as the [best] selling, most popular [device] for every week. since the launch" in November, Cook said Tuesday during a conference call with analysts.

Average price of iPhones sold in India has consistently been up in the last one year.

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Operating expenses are expected to come in at $7.7 billion for the third quarter.

Apple's stock price rose nearly 4% to $176.57 on Wednesday, at the high end of the price range where it has been mired since early November.

iPhone X sales have been in question since the release of the expensive premium handset, with analysts constantly lowering expectations throughout 2018.

Apple also markets related accessories, software, networking solutions, services, and third-party applications and digital content. In a bid to increase its retail footprint, Apple has tied up with Jio to create a distribution platform for iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus in India.

Apple sold 52.2 million iPhones during the first three months of the year.

But the key number everyone was looking to was the one that has the greatest impact on AAPL stock: iPhone sales.

APPLE CHIEF EXECUTIVE TIM COOK, on the iPhone X. Apple earnings is always a big event for traders and investors, so expect the stock be especially volatile today.

We've "been seeing Apple shifting from a device company to a services company", said Michael Obuchowski, chief investment officer for Boston-based Apple shareholder Merlin Asset Management. "I think the smartphone market is sort of the best market for a consumer product company in the history of the world".

It would be logical to assume the pricy iPhone X raised ASPs for Apple but with the danger of slowing sales. Apple said revenue in mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong had risen 21 per cent to US$13 billion, the largest increase in 10 quarters.

"China, I continue to believe is a phenomenal country with lots of opportunity from a market point of view, but also lots of opportunity from an app developer's point of view", Cook said during the earnings call.

  • Regina Walsh