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Apple Soars to Fresh Record High After Q3 Earnings Blowout; 4-For-1 Stock Split Planned for Late August

Apple's outsized influence on the Dow Jones Industrial Average will shrink next month after the tech giant announced a four-for-one stock split following blowout Q3 earnings and surprisingly strong iPhone sales.

Apple Inc.  (AAPL) - Get Free Report shares surged to a fresh all-time high Friday, trading firmly past the $400 mark for the first time ever, after the tech giant posted blowout third quarter earnings in the face of pandemic-triggered store closures and supply chain disruptions.

Apple said earnings for the three months ending in June, the group's fiscal third quarter, rose 25.9% from the same period last year to $2.58 per share, well ahead of the $2.05 per share Street consensus forecast. Group revenues rose 13.4% to a Street-beating $59.7 billion, Apple said, with gains in every geographical region and across all product line. 

iPhone revenues rose 2% from last year to a forecast-beating $26.4 billion, despite the COVID-19 headwinds, thanks in part to a solid debut for the $399 iPhone SE, which was launched earlier this year. iPad and iMac sales, meanwhile, rose 22% and 31% respectively as work-from-home shifts powered computer purchases. Services revenues were pegged at $13.2 billion, just shy of Apple's recent record and up 15% from last year.

"We're very pleased with how we did on iPhone. It was better than we thought largely because May and June were much better. If you look at iPhone in totality the things that gets me very optimistic is the size of the active installed base," Apple CEO Tim Cook told investors on a conference call late Thursday. 

"The installed base is growing and the new customer numbers are still very high and so, that to me bodes well for the future," he added. "There is clearly, as we had indicated, there is some amount of work from home and remote learning that do affect the results of Mac and iPad positively."

"They probably affect wearables and iPhone, the other direction. And -- but on Mac and iPad, these are productivity tools that people are using to stay engaged with their work or stay engaged with their school work," Cook said. "And we believe we're going to have a strong back to school season. Sitting here today, it certainly looks like that."

Apple shares were marked 6.2% higher in early trading Friday to change hands at $408.35 each, a move that would extend the stock's year-to-date gain to around 40% and value the Cupertino, California-based company at around $1.78 trillion.

The stock's impact on the Dow Jones Industrial Average, however, is set to wane next month after the group announced a four-for-one stock split that will take effect on August 31. A 7% to $410 per share adds around 185 points to the Dow. A similar gain at $110 per share would add only 46 points to the price-weighted average. 

Apple declined to offer a near-term profit forecast, "given the uncertainty around the world' and the ongoing COVID-19 impact, but noted that it expects to see continued gains for the iPhone, despite likely delays of "a few weeks" for its iPhone 12 launch in September.

"Management anticipates continued double-digit growth for all hardware products except iPhones during Q4/F20 with iPhones facing a difficult growth comparable combined with the new product launches coming a few weeks later or now in the December quarter," said Canaccord Genuity analyst T. Michael Walkley, who carries buy rating with a $460 price target on the stock.

"Starting in Q1/F21, we believe Apple is well-positioned to benefit from the 5G upgrade cycle and anticipate strong iPhone growth to contribute to overall strong growth trends as 5G smartphones ramp and Apple continues to grow its installed base and higher-margins services revenue," he added. "Apple’s ecosystem approach, including an installed base that exceeds 1.6 billion devices globally, should continue to generate strong services revenue, and we expect the higher-margin services revenue growth to outpace total company growth."