Apple's stock fell as much as 7.2% after hours after the company topped analyst earnings estimates, but offered cautious guidance going forward. Shares opened up down around 5% on Friday.
On the earnings call with investors, Apple executives disclosed that it will no longer break out unit sales of the iPhone, iPad and Mac.
CFO Luca Maestri justified the move by saying that "there hasn't been a strong correlation in recent years between unit sales and our financial performance. In addition, our revenue base has diversified."
In recent quarters, Apple has sought to highlight its services revenue -- its software-based offerings such as iCloud, iTunes and Apple Pay -- as opposed to focusing too heavily on sales of the iPhone, which make up the majority of Apple's revenue. Services revenue accounted for roughly 15.7% of total revenue last quarter.
Apple's $62.9 billion in revenue last quarter beat estimates. But it reported slightly lower unit sales of the iPhone, at 46.89 million versus the 47.5 million anticipated by analysts. Meanwhile, the iPhone's average selling price has crept up to $793, representing a year-over-year increase.
Starting with the December quarter, however, Apple will no longer let investors know how many units it's sold of the iPhone, iPad and Mac, its three best-selling devices. Maestri said that the figure is "less relevant for us today than it was in the past," though he added that if if makes sense for Apple to resume reporting unit sales in the future, it will do so. He also noted that Apple's competitors in smartphones and tablets don't provide quarterly unit sales.
"Over the past few years, Apple's story has transformed towards a focus on its overall ecosystem which fuels the Service Revenue stream," noted Jeff Marks, senior portfolio analyst for Jim Cramer's Action Alerts Plus portfolio, which owns Apple. "This means that investors should place less scrutiny on how many of what Apple is selling from an individual basis, and instead focus on the bigger picture because the real, sustained growth has come from monetizing the large installed base, which is growing at a double-digit clip."
On Apple's call with investors, Citigroup's Jim Suva pointed out that the change in iPhone reporting is likely to garner some "pushback."
"It sounds like you're still going to give revenue data if I heard that correctly but some people may fear that this now means that the iPhone units are going to start going negative year-over-year," he said. Reiterating Apple's increasing focus on services, Maestri said that in the December quarter, Apple will provide gross margin information for its Services business in addition to "qualitative commentary when it is important and relevant."
Apple shares are up about 26% year-to-date.