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Apple Demolishes Earnings Expectations, But Stock Falls After iPhone Chip Supply Warning

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  • Apple reported strong fiscal third-quarter earnings on Tuesday, demolishing Wall Street expectations.
  • Every one of Apple's major product lines grew over 12% on an annual basis. 
  • iPhone sales increased nearly 50% on an annual basis.  
  • Despite the strong quarterly results, Apple shares fell after executives warned that chip supply constraints could impact iPhones and iPads this quarter.

Apple reported strong fiscal third-quarter earnings on Tuesday, demolishing Wall Street expectations. Every one of Apple's major product lines grew over 12% on an annual basis. 

Overall, Apple's sales were up 36% from the June quarter last year. iPhone sales increased nearly 50% on an annual basis.  

Apple stock was down over 2% in extended trading. It dropped on Tuesday after Apple warned on its earnings call growth in the September quarter would not be as strong as June's.

Here are the key numbers compared to what Wall Street was expecting, per Refinitiv estimates:

  • EPS: $1.30 vs. $1.01 estimated 
  • Revenue: $81.41 billion vs. $73.30 billion estimated, up 36% year-over-year 
  • iPhone revenue: $39.57 billion vs. $34.01 billion estimated, up 49.78% year-over-year 
  • Services revenue: $17.48 billion vs. $16.33 billion estimated, up 33% year-over-year 
  • Other Products revenue: $8.76 billion vs. $7.80 billion estimated, up 40% year-over-year 
  • Mac revenue:$8.24 billion vs. $8.07 billion estimated, up 16% year-over-year 
  • iPad revenue: $7.37 billion vs. $7.15 billion estimated, up 12% year-over-year 
  • Gross margin: 43.3% vs. 41.9% estimated 

Apple did not provide formal guidance for the sixth quarter in a row and has not since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

However, Apple CFO Luca Maestri said Apple expects double-digit, year-over-year growth in the current quarter. Maestri said that Apple expected less than 36% growth in the September quarter because of foreign exchange rates, less growth in its services business and supply constraints for iPhones and iPads.

Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a call with analysts that Apple is seeing supply constraints related to "silicon" (a common term for computer chips) that would affect the company's iPhone and iPad sales in the September quarter.

Apple also had a strong quarter in its Greater China region, which includes Taiwan and Hong Kong in addition to the mainland. Apple reported $14.76 billion in sales in the region, up 58% from the same quarter last year, although it was an easy comparison given that China was in stages of lockdown during the quarter.  

Americas sales were up nearly 33% year-over-year to $39.57 billion.  

Apple's quarter ending in June is typically one of its slowest of the year, but the company has benefitted from work-at-home and remote schooling trends that have boosted sales of its premium computers.  

Last year's June quarter was a company record for sales despite lockdowns around the world, so Apple is growing even compared to a strong basis from a year ago.  

Cook mentioned that the success was not just because of people upgrading their old iPhones, but also Android customers buying their first iPhone.  

"We saw a very strong double digit increases in both upgraders and switchers during the quarter," Cook said.  

Apple's quarter could have been even better if it had not grappled with supply shortages likely linked to the global chip shortage, which mostly affected its Mac and iPad sales.  

"The shortage primarily affected Mac and iPad," Apple CEO Tim Cook told CNBC's Josh Lipton. "We had predicted the shortages to total $3 to $4 billion. But we were actually able to mitigate some of that, and we came in at the lower than the low end part of that range." 

However, Apple warned that silicon supply constraints could affect its September quarter iPhone and iPad sales, although the chips that are in short supply are the "legacy nodes" of older kinds of chips, instead of the processors that power Apple devices. Cook also said on a call with analysts that the company believes that freight costs are high.

Apple's services business also shook off investor fears that its rate of growth could slow as more people go back to work and spend less on online services and apps. Services was up 33% year-over-year, an acceleration from last quarter's 26.7% growth rate. Maestri said that Apple expected the company's services growth rate to decrease in the September quarter.

While Apple's services business includes many products and Apple does not break down how it's composed, Cook told CNBC that the company set records in music, video, cloud services, advertising and payments.  

"It's clear that our long running investment in our services strategy is succeeding," Cook told CNBC.

Apple now has 700 million paid subscribers, up 150 million year-over-year, Cook said. Apple's subscriber figure includes customers subscribed to an app through Apple's App Store billing.  

Cook also said that Apple pushed back its return to its campus headquarters from September to at least October because of the Covid-19 situation.  

"I've been really pleased with what we've been able to accomplish in this fully remote mode," Cook said.  

Apple declared a dividend of $0.22 per share of stock. In a statement, Apple said that it spent $29 billion on shareholder return during the quarter. Apple CFO Luca Maestri told CNBC that the company has bought back almost $450 billion in stock in recent years.  

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