Apple has surprised investors with better-than-expected sales figures for the April 1 quarter, with its strong iPhone sales and inroads in emerging markets such as India allowing it to weather a slowing global economy. The company exceeded Wall Street’s revenue and profit expectations, producing a flat profit of $1.52 per share and generating sales of $94.8bn, down just 2.5% when a 4.4% decline had been expected. Apple saw a 1.5% increase in iPhone sales, outstripping an expected drop of 3.3%, with the company’s share of the global smartphone market rising thanks to supply-chain improvements and despite falling sales across the sector.
Resilience against economic uncertainty
Apple’s outperformance in 2023 so far, with a 28% rise in stock, has positioned it as a strong potential defensive option in a period of economic uncertainty, despite the slump in sales across other electronics sectors. The company’s services business, which includes iCloud and Apple Pay, fared best, posting growth of 5.5% to $20.9bn, while sales of Macs and iPads slipped. CEO Tim Cook commented that record sales in emerging markets was a source of particular satisfaction for Apple, highlighting success in Brazil, India and Mexico. Speaking of problems in China, Cook said: “Apple still needs China on a near-term basis to drive sales and profits. Long-term, emerging markets are important, especially India from a supply chain and sales standpoint.”
Pros and potential
The strong results continue a prosperous period for Apple, outperforming other major tech firms in 2023 so far. The company also announced a raised dividend to 24 cents per share and authorised a share repurchase programme worth $90bn. However, Apple’s success has been dampened by disappointing sales of Macs, falling over 30% compared to predictions of a 25% decline, while sales in China dropped 2.9%, a slightly greater slump than overall revenue. Apple’s next major hardware product is eagerly anticipated by investors, with rumours of a mixed-reality headset set to debut in June at the company’s software developer conference, along with new service businesses such as a high-yield savings account.
Wall Street is lukewarm on Apple’s short-term prospects, while investors wait for sales to recover. Apple predicted a profitable end to the June-ending fiscal third quarter, and analysts predict a modest and slow growth. While investors are disappointed with the slump in Mac and iPad sales, and a slowdown in some areas of China, Apple’s stock is seen as a comparatively stable investment in potentially choppy times.