So much for the Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) naysayers and the end of guaranteed earnings surprises for AAPL. After the bell Tuesday, Apple earnings blew the door off and returned the company to its history of impressive earnings surprises.
Apple said Tuesday afternoon that profits soared 118% in its first-fiscal-quarter earnings, mostly on strong sales of the iPhone and continued success for its dominant iPad tablet. The Apple earnings results beat forecasts by almost 20%, and it was trading up more than 7% at around $450 in after-hours action.
The earnings prove that Apple remains Wall Street’s No. 1 growth stock even after the death of its iconic founder Steve Jobs and even after a minor hiccup in its previous quarterly earnings report. It proves Apple is indeed a pricey stock worth every penny.
It wasn’t long ago that massive earnings surprises were the order of the day for Apple. Regularly, the company would blow away estimates — despite the fact that Wall Street remains over the moon about iPhone sales and the dominance of the iPad. The first quarter of fiscal 2011? A 20% earnings surprise as revenue grew 71% and earnings grew 78%. Similar fireworks in Q2 and Q3 … another 20% earnings beat, followed by a 33% earnings beat.
But then, there was a hiccup last October. Apple shares slumped as the Cupertino, Calif.-based Mac maker posted strong numbers three months ago. Why? Well, because net income “only” rose by about 50% and sales “only” rose by about 40%. Wall Street had set the bar higher and was disappointed Apple couldn’t keep up.
Well, it looks like Apple made up for that miss by cranking out stupendous results this time around.
The amazing thing is that prior to this mammoth earnings report, Apple already was trading at a fairly discounted valuation. The P/E was less than 11 going into Tuesday’s earnings report — and given the fact that Apple has raised the bar yet again on its earnings outlook, it’s reasonable to think that despite the inevitable a run-up in shares on Wednesday, that the stock is a fairly good growth play for long-term investors.
Of course, that is assuming that Apple’s earnings momentum keeps up. There is always a chance we will see the stock hit another speed bump like it did last October — but history is in favor of continued growth at the company, at quite a rapid clip.
Jeff Reeves is the editor of InvestorPlace.com. Write him at editor@investorplace??.com, follow him on Twitter via @JeffReevesIP and become a fan of InvestorPlace on Facebook. Jeff Reeves holds a position in Alcoa, but no other publicly traded stocks.