Apple Inc. (AAPL) is scheduled to release its next earnings report on Tuesday after closing bell, although analysts are so focused on the iPhone 8 that the next couple of earnings reports are little more than a formality for many investors. It’s safe to say that all the eggs are in the iPhone 8 basket, so Apple Inc. (AAPL) can’t afford to mess that one up.
Smartphone demand weakened
On average, Wall Street is projecting $53 billion in sales and earnings of $2.02 per share for the March quarter. Apple Inc. (AAPL) guided for $51.5 billion to $53.5 billion in revenue and a GAAP gross margin of 38% to 39%.
Based on the earnings reports from AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile, smartphone demand weakened during the first quarter. AT&T reported record low upgrades, and it was a similar story at Verizon and T-Mobile. Raymond James analysts believe sell-through trends in the U.S. have weakened, but despite this, they still believe the iPhone took share from other smartphone makers in every major country except China.
Needham analyst Laura Martin estimates that Apple Inc. (AAPL) sold about 53.35 million iPhones during the March quarter, representing a 5% year over year increase. They peg iPhone revenue at $34.45 billion, a 5% increase from last year. She estimates iPad units at 9.9 million, an 8% decline, and iPad revenue at $4.3 billion, a 3% decline. Services revenue is pegged at $6.9 billion, a 15% year over year increase.
iPhone average selling price at risk
UBS analyst Steven Milunovich noted in one of his earnings previews on Apple Inc. (AAPL) that a recent survey from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners suggests that the company might miss estimates for the iPhone average selling price. The survey indicated that the iPhone 7 Plus was about 33% of the mix, versus the historic 20% to 30% range. Also the iPhone SE appeared to have sold better than expected, making up 31% of the mix combined with older iPhone models. Typically, the lower-priced iPhones are only about 20% to 25% of the mix.
CIRP also found that the storage mix was weak as well because 47% of iPhone buyers opted for the base configuration versus 35% to 40% usually, which again will weigh on the average selling price. Additionally, 80% of purchases were from upgraders, versus 70% to 75% during fiscal 2016. Milunovich suggests that the standard iPhone 7 may have been polarized during the first quarter as value-oriented and innovation-oriented buyers purchased one.
Other matters in Apple Inc. (AAPL)’s earnings report
Along with the standard numbers, he’s also expecting another $40 billion share repurchase program, which will increase Apple Inc. (AAPL)’s authorization for buybacks from $250 billion to $310 billion. He’s also predicting a 10% increase in the dividend, bringing it to 62 cents.
Shares of Apple Inc. (AAPL) stock were little changed during regular trading hours on Thursday as they hovered around $143.66 for most of the day.