The one thing investors were probably most concerned about in this week’s report was iPhone sales, which were weaker than expected. Wall Street was hoping the company shipped 55 million iPhones, but it only shipped 51 million. Nonetheless, as Apple bulls point out, the company did beat revenue and earnings per share estimates. The strength just didn’t come from the place most thought it would.
Reflecting on Apple’s results
Jefferies analyst Peter Misek and his team continue to rate Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) as a Buy with a $650 per share price target. They note that strength in iPad and Mac shipments offset the weaker than expected iPhone shipments during the December quarter. Apple reported shipping 26 million iPads, compared to expectations of 25 million and Mac shipments of 4.8 million, compared to estimates of between 4.5 million and 4.7 million. Apple came up light in iPod shipments too, however, reporting 6 million shipments during the quarter, compared to expectations of between 8 million and 10.3 million.
Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) reported $57.6 billion in revenue, compared to guidance of between $55 billion and $58 billion and expectations of between $57.1 billion and $57.5 billion. Gross margins were 37.9%, beating the company’s guidance of between 36.2% and 37.5% and expectations of between 37.2% and 37.4%.
Apple guides weak as well
Another key area of concern for investors is Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s guidance, which was also lower than expected. Revenues were a little lower than expectations and imply earnings per share of between $9.37 and $10.25 for the current quarter, which ends in March. Expectations for the quarter are running between $10.84 and $11.11 per share.
Nonetheless, Misek expects that the projected strength in margins in the December quarter bodes well for the quarter in spite of the miss on iPhones. He describes himself as remaining “bullish ahead of the iPhone 6 launch.”
Carl Icahn to renew battle with Apple?
Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Brian White believes the March quarter guidance will give activist investor Carl Icahn more “ammunition” in his battle for a greater share buyback. He has been pushing Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) to buy back billions of dollars’ worth of its stock as soon as possible. His initial push was for $150 billion in share buybacks, although he dialed that back a bit in his non-binding shareholder proposal, which will be on the proxy at next month’s annual shareholder meeting.