Shares of Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) soared to a new all-time high in the days after the company’s fiscal fourth-quarter earnings report earlier this week. Investors were impressed with the company’s accelerated top-line momentum and a return to earnings growth. The quarter was fueled by improving iPhone sales trends and strong momentum in services and wearables.
But what should investors think of the stock at these levels? While shares certainly aren’t the bargain they were earlier this year, there’s still reason for investors to be bullish on the stock.
Here are three quotes from Apple management during the company’s fiscal fourth-quarter earnings call that help make a good bull case for the stock.
AN APPLE STORE. IMAGE SOURCE: APPLE.
1. iPhone sales trends are improving
During fiscal Q4, iPhone revenue fell 9% year over year. While a contraction in Apple’s biggest segment continues to weigh on the tech giant’s overall results, Apple CFO Luca Maestri highlighted why investors should be encouraged.
“This [9% year-over-year decline in iPhone revenue] was a meaningful improvement to the 12% decline in the third quarter and a 16% decline in the first half of the fiscal year,” Maestri explained. “And we saw great customer response to the launch of iPhone 11, 11 Pro, and 11 Pro Max at the end of the quarter.”
Later in the call, CEO Tim Cook said early sales trends of the company’s latest iPhones have led management to believe that year-over-year sales trends for the segment will continue to improve throughout fiscal 2020.
2. Apple is seeing strong growth beyond iPhone
While Apple’s iPhone business continued to decline on a year-over-year basis in fiscal Q4, investors can’t deny how healthy the rest of the company’s business is. Cook provided an interesting perspective on Apple’s performance in fiscal 2019 when looking at its business beyond iPhone.
We introduced new services from Apple Card to Apple TV+ and generated over $46 billion in total services revenue, setting new yearly services records in all five of our geographic segments and driving our Services business to the size of a Fortune 70 company. … Our Wearables business showed explosive growth and generated more annual revenue than two-thirds of the companies in the Fortune 500. And we set a yearly revenue record for Mac. All told, outside of iPhone, our revenue grew by $17 billion to almost $118 billion.
3. Fiscal 2020 looks promising
While Apple finished out the second half of fiscal 2019 with slight top-line growth, revenue growth was still down for the full year. Total sales fell from $266 billion in fiscal 2018 to $260 billion in fiscal 2019. In addition, earnings-per-share growth stalled, at about $11.90.
But investors are hoping fiscal 2020 will mark a period of reinvigorated financial results. After all, Apple saw accelerated momentum in services and wearables in fiscal Q4 and the company’s earnings per share returned to growth.
Fortunately, Apple management seems to be on board with a forecast for improving financials in fiscal 2020. Said CFO Maestri:
The guidance that we are providing [for our first quarter of fiscal 2020] — if you look at it … the midpoint implies an acceleration of growth from the performance that we’ve seen during the course of fiscal 2019. … We feel very good … about the iPhone … and we do expect an improvement in our year-over-year growth rate on iPhone. Wearables has very, very strong momentum. The portfolio of services also has incredible momentum.
Apple guided for revenue in its fiscal first quarter of 2020 to be between $85.5 billion and $89.5 billion. This compares to revenue of $84.3 billion in the first quarter of fiscal 2019.