Apple Inc. (AAPL): Concerns Continue To Mount

Apple Inc. (AAPL): Concerns Continue To Mount
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Apple failed to meet Wall Street’s lofty expectations in its earnings report last week, and the company’s stock has since declined steadily. Shares fell another 0.88% to as low as $121.91 per share during regular trading hours today.

Apple’s (AAPL) buybacks not supporting share price

While most analysts are bullish on Apple, there are a few who have bucked the trend. Bearish worries are indeed starting to spread on Wall Street, but BGR analyst Collin Gillis is adding fuel to the fire. He notes that the company hasn’t been able to support its share price despite spending billions of dollars buying back shares. The stock has fallen by more than 7% since this year’s high of $133 per share, which was hit in February.

Apple spent $4 billion to buy back 31.2 million shares during the June quarter and, in all has spent $90 billion since beginning it share repurchase program. The company’s failure to support its share price despite the large share buybacks is evidence that investors may be starting to get antsy.

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Apple Watch sales fail to impress

Perhaps the biggest issue with Apple that has been discussed for quite some time is its dependence on the iPhone. During the June quarter, Apple recorded a 35% year over year increase in iPhone units, which rose to 48 million. iPad volume declined 18% to 11 million, and Apple sold just 5 million Macs, illustrating how heavily the company depends on iPhone sales. Management also declined to break out Apple Watch units sales, instead including revenue from the device under “other.”

This has concerned many investors because the revenue category did not see an increase which would suggest that the device is another huge hit. Sales of the “other” category increased from $1.77 billion in last year’s June quarter to $2.6 billion in this year’s June quarter. Management attempted to reassure investors that sales of the Apple Watch are going well, but Wall Street doesn’t seem convinced.

AAPL iPhone dependence not the only problem

Gillis highlighted two other problem areas he sees, with the first being services. Apple has been focused on building out a strong ecosystem, and analysts from multiple firms have praised the iOS ecosystem and its stickiness. However, Gillis suggests that consumers don’t really like the company’s services.

“Does anyone really love using iTunes?” he mused in his report this week. “Do you truly consider the App store a polished product with curated suggestions that can’t be improved? Have you compared Siri to Google Now?”

His assertions seem anecdotal for now. Apple Music is the newest service being offered by the company, and management has said 10 million consumers have signed up for the free trial, but he suggests that it’s “disappointing” for Apple to offer a product that’s so similar to the streaming music services offered by competitors already.

Also there have been rumors about a TV service from Apple, and Gillis seems to think that it will be a disappointment as well. Further, he wants to know why Apple hasn’t successfully established an ad revenue stream and also questions such services will increase the company’s regulatory risks. Indeed, a senator has already called for an investigation of Apple Music for its licensing terms.

Apple (AAPL) growth slowing

Second, he points out that Apple is falling victim to the Law of Large Numbers. He’s expecting the company’s growth to slow, although not until next year’s December quarter. Of course he’s not including revenue from as yet unannounced products. Further, he doesn’t see much more room for Apple to grow the average selling price of the iPhone, which means the company will be even more dependent on unit growth for the handset.

He also pointed out that Apple’s share repurchases will likely slow as it burns through its domestic cash.

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