Apple is scheduled to report fiscal Q4 results on Thursday, October 28, after the closing bell – and the Apple Maven will follow all the action via live blog. Today, we look at what investors should expect of the event and discuss what could happen to Apple stock (AAPL) - Get Apple Inc. Report following earnings.
(Read more from the Apple Maven: What Cathie Wood’s Position in AAPL Says About The Market)
Wall Street’s expectations
Analysts expect to see the Cupertino company report revenues of $84.8 billion this time, meaning an increase of a bit more than 30% YOY. Keep in mind that these high levels of growth will be against very easy comps last year that were impacted by COVID-19 and the delayed launch of the iPhone 12.
On earnings, consensus points at EPS of $1.24 vs. a much lower $0.73 this time last year. Fiscal Q4 consensus EPS has inched higher by about a penny in the past few weeks and moved up by around a dime since right before last quarter’s earnings season. Clearly, Wall Street has become progressively more optimistic about Apple’s upcoming earnings report.
It is worth refreshing our memory on Apple’s own guidance for the quarter. This is what CFO Luca Maestri had to say, about three months ago (as paraphrased by the Apple Maven):
“No revenue outlook, only directional comments. If COVID-19 impact does not worsen, expect double-digit growth in sales, but lower than the 36% of the June quarter due to FX at three percentage points of drag, services going back to ‘normal’, and supply constraints greater this time on iPhone and iPad. Gross margin 41.5% to 42.5%; Opex $11.3 billion to $11.5 billion; Other income zero; Tax rate 16%.”
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Key topics of conversation
As usual, the iPhone will likely be a center-of-attention business. Not only do smartphones account for roughly half of Apple’s total revenues, but the segment also seems to have been a beneficiary of two successful product launches in the past 12 months: the 5G-ready iPhone 12 and iPhone 13.
I have talked about the iPhone at length recently. First, the “super cycle thesis” seems to be proving right, at least judging by third-party research reports. However, keep in mind the debate around the supply chain challenges, as it could provide clues about device sales in the important holiday quarter.
Services will likely be another hot topic. The bad news is that any potential drag from the App Store debacle may be reflected in the company’s guidance for fiscal first quarter, even if the impact may not be felt in fiscal Q4 results. The better news is that strength in the iPhone and other products could help to propel user engagement and consumption of Apple’s services, something that not even Apple’s management team might have been able to factor into their guidance last quarter.
What to expect of AAPL stock
A few months ago, I did a study on Apple share price behavior ahead of earnings seasons. At the median, AAPL has risen just short of 5% in the two weeks following the announcement of the company’s quarterly results. This is much better than Apple stock’s average two-week performance outside the earnings period – a.k.a. the “control group”. See chart below.
This can be encouraging news for Apple stock investors – more so considering that AAPL remains below its all-time high, although now by only 5%. Maybe more importantly to long-term holders of the shares, I think that reasonable valuations, stabilizing yields and a drop in volatility all conspire in favor of the stock at current levels.
Apple reports earnings in a couple of days, and AAPL stock trades today just short of $150 apiece. By Friday end of day, following earnings, what do you think will be the share price?
Is the price right?
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(Disclaimers: this is not investment advice. The author may be long one or more stocks mentioned in this report. Also, the article may contain affiliate links. These partnerships do not influence editorial content. Thanks for supporting The Apple Maven)