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Apple stock pops 6% after results top estimates, company reveals $110 billion buyback

In Technology
May 03, 2024

Apple stock (AAPL) rose as much as 6% early on Friday after the tech giant reported earnings that beat forecasts, sales that fell less than feared, and announced a new $110 billion share repurchase plan.

The iPhone maker reported late Thursday second quarter earnings per share (EPS) of $1.53 on revenue of $90.8 billion. Wall Street was anticipating EPS of $1.50 on revenue of $90.3 billion, according to analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Apple’s Greater China revenue, which includes mainland China, Taiwan, Singapore, and Hong Kong, slid 8% year over year to $16.37 billion. That, however, was better than the $15.87 billion analysts were expecting. Apple CFO Luca Maestri told Yahoo Finance’s Josh Lipton that the company saw growth in mainland China during the quarter.

The company’s all-important iPhone revenue totaled $45.96 billion, down from $51.33 billion in Q2 last year. Apple also announced it was authorizing an additional $110 billion for share repurchases and increased its dividend to $0.25 per share. Shareholder returns plans have become a feature of Big Tech results this year, with Meta initiating a dividend in February and Alphabet announcing its own plans to start paying a dividend late last month.

Ahead of Thursday’s report, Apple stock had been down 10% this year, lagging many of its Big Tech peers and the broader market.

In its fiscal second quarter, Mac revenue came in at $7.45 billion versus an anticipated $6.79 billion, while iPad revenue hit $5.55 billion. Analysts were expecting $5.91 billion. Wearables, which include AirPods, the Apple Watch, and Vision Pro, saw revenue of $7.91 billion. Wall Street was looking for $8.28 billion.

Another bright spot for Apple in the quarter: Services revenue hit $23.87 billion, up from $20.91 billion last year, an all-time record. Analysts were expecting $23.28 billion.

On its earnings call, Apple also said it expects current quarter revenue growth to be in the low single digits. Services revenues are expected to grow by double digits and at a rate similar to what the company saw in the first half of its fiscal year.

JPMorgan analysts led by Samik Chatterjee wrote in a client note late Thursday these results are “setting up a strong launch pad for the company in relation to results in FY24 as focus turns to the impending AI smartphone upgrade cycle in the coming years.” Following the results, JPMorgan maintained its Overweight rating on the stock and raised its price target to $225 per share from $210.

Apple is also gearing up for its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in June, where it will reportedly unveil the latest versions of its iOS, macOS, watchOS, iPadOS, and visionOS operating systems. One of the biggest announcements at the show will likely be how Apple will integrate generative AI into its various products.

On the company’s earnings call, CEO Tim Cook said, “We believe we have advantages that will differentiate us in this new era.”

In a note to clients following the report, Evercore ISI analysts led by Amit Daryanani wrote: “We think a set of positive catalysts should help drive the stock higher as we go into WWDC where AAPL will provide details around their AI strategy across both hardware and services. We think Apple can deliver AI upside without the AI capex we see elsewhere.” Evercore maintained its Outperform rating and $220 price target on the stock.

Apple may be relatively late to the generative AI party, with rivals across Big Tech already rolling out their own product offerings to consumers and enterprise customers. Still, the company has been busy buying up AI firms and building its own large language model to potentially power its AI efforts.

And Maestri told Yahoo Finance that the company is making significant investments in generative AI technologies. Apple is also looking to work with OpenAI, Google, and others to get its AI offerings up to snuff, according to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman.

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Email Daniel Howley at dhowley@yahoofinance.com. Follow him on Twitter at @DanielHowley.

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