First Look: Apple’s Strong Earnings Pave Path for Trillion-Dollar Valuation

Apple's continued growth isn't coming from the iPhone, but that doesn't matter ...

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Technology giant Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) just reported third-quarter numbers that were well above expectations, while also delivering a fourth-quarter guide that exceeded consensus estimates. In response to the strong beat-and-raise quarter, AAPL stock is up just over 2% in after-hours trading.

Across the board, the report was very, very good. The high-growth Services segment remained red-hot. Apple’s core hardware products (the iPhone, iPad and Mac) are doing just fine, while the new hardware products (Apple Watch) are doing very well. Gross margins are stable. Average selling prices are soaring thanks to a higher priced product mix. And, earnings growth is as good as it has been in recent memory.

In the big picture, this report is exactly what AAPL stock needs to push it to the trillion dollar club. I doubt AAPL stock will hit a trillion dollar valuation in direct response to this report. But, the strong report gives AAPL stock the firepower it needs to hit $1 trillion over the next several weeks.

Here’s a deeper look.

Apple’s Report Was Strong Across The Board

Across the board, Apple’s third-quarter earnings report was robust and topped analyst expectations.

The headline numbers were strong. Revenues came in at $53.3 billion, up 17% year-over-year and above the expectation for $52.4 billion. Earnings came in at $3.24, 16 cents above the consensus estimate for $2.18. Revenues for next quarter were well above consensus estimates. IPhone shipments were a touch light, but iPad shipments were slightly above expectations. The saving grace on the iPhone side of things was that average selling price was $724, well above expectations for $694.

But, as I’ve pointed out for a while now, the iPhone is becoming somewhat of a stable sideshow for Apple. The real growth parts of this business are in Services and the company’s other hardware products, like the Apple Watch.

Those businesses smashed expectations this quarter, too.

Excluding one-timers, Services revenue growth was 28%, versus expectations for a 26% rise and only a slight slowdown from last quarter’s 31% growth rate. Meanwhile, Other Products saw revenues rise 37% year-over-year, above expectations and in line with the past several quarters’ growth rate in the upper 30s.

Overall, then, the quarter was very good. iPhone shipments came in a touch light. But, everywhere else, Apple smashed expectations, and especially where it mattered (Services and Other Products).

Apple Stock Could Be Looking at $1 Trillion Soon

As of this writing, AAPL stock is up more than 2% in response to solid third-quarter numbers. Over the next several weeks, I see that rally translating into a 10%-plus rally, and AAPL stock crossing into the trillion dollar valuation club.

What investors really wanted to see in this report was that the traditional hardware business is stable with lower shipments being offset by higher average selling prices and that the new software and hardware businesses are maintaining their momentum. Investors got both of those in this report.

Thus, there is a clear pathway for Apple to grow revenues, boost margins, and grow earnings healthily over the next several years through Services, Apple Watch and Apple Home. Considering AAPL stock trades at just 17X forward earnings, it really isn’t hard to see this stock benefiting from both robust earnings growth and multiple expansion.

If both of those catalysts materialize, AAPL stock could hit $1 trillion rather soon.

Bottom Line on AAPL Stock

Apple had a really strong third quarter, and the fourth-quarter guide was equally impressive. Put together, the strong numbers and healthy guide should be enough to send AAPL stock to $1 trillion.

As of this writing, Luke Lango was long AAPL.


Article printed from InvestorPlace Media, https://investorplace.com/2018/07/first-look-aapl-stock-strong-earnings-pave-path-for-trillion-dollar-valuation/.

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