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Apple iPhone sales inch up

Customers queue at the Apple Fifth Avenue store for the release of the Apple iPhone 14 range in Manhattan, New York City, US on September 16, 2022 — Reuters/Files
Customers queue at the Apple Fifth Avenue store for the release of the Apple iPhone 14 range in Manhattan, New York City, US on September 16, 2022 — Reuters/Files

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Apple's results beat expectations on Thursday (US standard time), showing off the tech giant's resilience in a slowing global economy thanks to better-than-expected iPhone sales and notable inroads in India and other newer markets, reports Reuters.

Shares of the largest US company by market value rose 2 per cent after Apple exceeded Wall Street's expectations for revenue and profit for the April 1 quarter. The company's results contrast with disappointing figures out of big chipmakers due to a slower-than-expected rebound in China's economic growth.

Apple executives on Thursday said gross profit margins for the current quarter would be better than forecast despite an expected dip in revenue as supply-chain issues have improved.

Apple said sales for its fiscal second quarter ended April 1 fell 2.5 per cent to $94.8 billion, ahead of expectations for a 4.4 per cent decline, according to Refinitiv data. Profit was flat at $1.52 per share, compared with estimates of $1.43 per share.

IPhone sales were up 1.5 per cent to $51.3 billion, besting expectations for a 3.3 per cent drop even as consumers and businesses tightened up spending due to rising inflation. Global smartphone shipments fell 13 per cent during the first three months of 2023, according to research firm Canalys, which said Apple gained market share against Android rivals.

Apple raised its dividend to 24 cents a share, up from 23 cents a share a year ago. The board authorized a $90 billion share repurchase programme, same as a year ago.


Apple CEO Tim Cook told Reuters in an interview on Thursday that the company set a fiscal second-quarter record for iPhone sales, thanks in part to picking up new users in markets such as India, where Cook recently travelled for the opening of that country's first Apple stores.

Chief Financial Officer Luca Maestri said Apple's gross margin will be between 44 per cent and 44.5 per cent, above estimates of 43.7 per cent, according to Refinitiv data. But he also said Apple's revenue will likely decline slightly. Analysts were expecting a 2.1 per cent increase to $84.7 billion for the company's June-ending fiscal third quarter.

"We were thrilled by our performance in emerging markets," Cook said. "We set records for the iPhone installed base in every geographic segment, and we had very strong 'new to' (sales in) emerging markets, particularly in Brazil, India and Mexico."

Cook also said supply-chain snarls have vanished. "We had no material shortages at all during the quarter across any of the products."

Not all of Apple's business lines were immune to the electronics slump. Sales of Macs fell sharply while iPad revenue slipped. Sales in China also dropped 2.9 per cent, a slightly larger drop than overall revenue.

"Apple still needs China on a near-term basis to drive sales and profits," said Tom Forte of D.A. Davidson. "Long-term, emerging markets are important, especially India from a supply chain and sales standpoint."

Other tech firms have predicted a second-half rebound. Wall Street expects Apple to recover faster and show modest year-over-year revenue growth during its fiscal third quarter ending in June.

Investors are still waiting for the company's next major hardware product. Bloomberg has reported the iPhone maker could unveil a mixed-reality headset as soon as next month, when it holds its annual software developer conference. The company recently announced new service businesses such as a high-yield savings account.

Mac sales fell more than 30 per cent compared with analyst estimates of a 25 per cent decline, according to Refinitiv. Apple's sales fared only slightly better than PC unit shipments in the market, which fell 33 per cent in the calendar first quarter, according to Canalys.

Sales in Apple's wearables business, which includes devices like AirPods and the Apple Watch, fell less than 1 per cent compared with estimates for a 4.4 per cent drop.

Apple's biggest growth segment was its services business, which includes products like iCloud and Apple Pay, which grew 5.5 per cent to $20.9 billion. Cook said Apple now has 975 million subscribers on its platform, which includes both Apple services and third-party apps, up from 935 million last quarter and an increase of 150 million from a year ago.

Apple's stock has outperformed most of Wall Street in 2023, up 28 per cent year-to-date. Investors see the company as a defensive play during a time of economic uncertainty.

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