Apple (AAPL) - Get Report is slated to report fiscal fourth-quarter results after the bell on Tuesday, Oct. 25, and investors will be looking to hear how well the iPhone 7 is doing so far ahead of the upcoming holiday season.
In addition, they'll likely want to see whether Samsung's (SSNLF) Galaxy Note 7 issues can be an unexpected boon for the world's largest tech company.
"We see our trip to Asia, recent news flow, Dialog's preannouncement and the Galaxy Note 7 issues all giving us further confidence that this iPhone 7 cycle may prove stronger than expected," Credit Suisse analyst Kulbinder Garcha wrote in a note to clients previewing earnings. "Given high retention rates, a superior ecosystem, and multi product compute advantage, we believe such elevated levels of earnings and FCF of ~$67bn should be sustainable long term."
When the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus were unveiled in September, media and investor sentiment were low. Many industry observers noted that while both phones were an improvement, Apple customers would likely choose to wait another year to upgrade. That hasn't been the case, at least not initially.
A look on Apple's website shows that some models of the iPhone 7 are still back-ordered, indicating strong consumer demand (and to some extent, difficulty procuring parts). Various versions of the Jet Black iPhone 7 and 7 Plus are back ordered between three and four weeks. Other models of the iPhone 7 are available to ship in a much sooner time frame.
In addition to strength in the iPhone, which accounts for two-thirds of Apple's revenue, investors will be looking to hear about Apple's Services business, which CEO Tim Cook and his team have talked up incessantly.
At the iPhone event, Cook mentioned that more than 140 billion apps have been downloaded to date and that the growth rate is accelerating. In the prior two months, Apple saw growth rates surpassing 100% year-over-year, indicating there is plenty of life to the app boom.
Pacific Crest Securities analyst Andy Hargreaves said there may be an upside to earnings estimates because of the strength in app downloads. "Given the strong App Store download activity announced at Apple's iPhone event, we see the potential for upside to FQ4 EPS and gross margins if monetization of Pokemon Go was solid, which seems likely," Hargreaves wrote in a note to clients.
Analysts surveyed by Yahoo! Finance expect Apple earn $1.65 cents a share on $46.86 billion in revenues.
Apple is continuing to transition to focus more on its core businesses, while continuing to grow its lucrative services business. These three ETFs may benefit if investors like Apple's fourth-quarter results.
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Pacific Crest's Hargreaves is expecting 45 million iPhones this quarter and 75 million next quarter, which would be "good enough given [Apple's] valuation." Currently, Apple trades at 13 times 2017 earnings estimates.
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Garcha expects 48 million iPhones shipped this quarter and 75 million in the next calendar quarter, but the news cycle has pointed to a better-than-expected iPhone 7 cycle.
Stronger-than-expected build plans, strong pre-order figures from T-Mobile and Sprint, positive earnings from Dialog and the Galaxy Note 7 struggles have all led to positive signs for Apple. "All of these data points should provide both near and long-term tailwinds for units," the analyst said in a note to clients.
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Hargreaves, who has an "overweight" rating and a $129 price target, said in addition to the App Store strength, iPhone pricing -- led by the iPhone 7 Plus -- could help drive revenue upside.