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Apple falls after skipping forecast for first time in years
APPLE Inc reported quarterly revenue that grew 1 per cent, but didn't provide a forecast for the first time in more than a decade, sparking concern that performance will suffer later this year.
Chief executive officer Tim Cook said Apple experienced a "very depressed" period in late March and early April, in the depths of the Covid-19 pandemic, but saw a "pickup" in the second half of this month. The company raised its dividend and expanded a share buyback plan by US$50 billion.
Fiscal second-quarter sales came in at US$58.3 billion, compared with $58 billion a year earlier. That beat Wall Street estimates, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. IPhone revenue was US$28.96 billion, down 7 per cent, but also topping analysts' expectations. Services sales jumped 17 per cent to US$13.35 billion, while the wearables and accessories business climbed 23 per cent to $US6.28 billion. The shares fell 1.6 per cent on Friday in New York.
"The last part of March and the first part of April were very depressed and then we've seen a pickup relative to that period of time in the second half of April," Mr Cook said in an interview. "I would attribute that partially to the new products that we were able to launch at end of March and early April, the economic stimulus and probably some level of people getting a bit more used to that this is going to last a little while."
The Cupertino, California-based technology giant did not provide guidance for its June quarter due to the ongoing complications from Covid-19.
"It just spooks people about just how bad the second quarter is going to be," said Mike Walkley, an analyst at Cannaccord Genuity.
During a conference call, chief financial officer Luca Maestri suggested that challenges continue in the current quarter. "On iPhone and wearables, we expect the year-over-year revenue performance to worsen in the June quarter relative to the March quarter," he said. "On iPad and Mac, we expect the year-over-year revenue performance to improve." Apple has been uniquely impacted by the pandemic. In late January, many of its Asia-based suppliers and manufacturers ground to a halt as part of efforts to curb the spread of Covid-19. That resulted in shipping delays for devices and supply constraints.
Around that time, it closed all 42 retail stores in China, a key source of revenue for the company, then shut its other retail locations. It's still waiting to reopen most of them.
In January, the company had projected fiscal second-quarter sales of between US$63 billion and US$67 billion, but it pulled the guidance in February as the pandemic started spreading outside of China.
On Thursday, Mr Maestri said digital content services, such as Apple TV+ and Music, will remain strong, but that the AppleCare warranty business and revenue from advertising deals would again dip. App Store revenue grew double digits in the fiscal second quarter, with paid subscriptions topping 515 million, he noted.
"Our active installed base of devices reached an all-time high in all of our geographic segments and all major product categories," the CFO said. "We are confident in our future and continue to make significant investments in all areas of our business." Apple is also sticking to its M&A strategy, Mr Maestri said, while reiterating a pledge to invest US$350 billion in the US economy in coming years.
Apple's sales in China during the quarter dipped by about US$760 million, with increases reported in Europe and Asia Pacific outside of China. The company reported slight annual sales declines in the US and Japan. It launched some new products in the quarter, including the new iPad Pro and a pair of Macs, but the iPhone SE's debut was delayed about a month into the current quarter.
Mr Cook said foot traffic to its retail stores in China hasn't returned to pre-pandemic levels. But retail sales hit a quarterly record because of strong online performance. The CEO also praised the new iPhone SE's US$399 starting price, saying it will attract switchers from Google's Android and appeal to fans of smaller smartphones. Mr Cook said Apple's China-centric supply chain showed strength, but that the company would still investigate tweaks to its processes after the pandemic.
Net income was US$11.25 billion, or US$2.55 a share, compared with US$11.56 billion, or US$2.46 a share, a year earlier.
The virus is also impacting efforts to build future products. The company's four upcoming redesigned iPhones with 5G will launch multiple weeks later than usual, but still by November, Bloomberg News has reported. BLOOMBERG