Perhaps the most impressive aspect of Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) guidance for the coming quarter was gross margin, which may increase sequentially despite the loss of operating leverage. In this segment from Industry Focus: Tech, Motley Fool analyst Dylan Lewis and senior technology specialist Evan Niu discuss the iPhone maker's outlook for the current period.
A full transcript follows the video.
This podcast was recorded on Feb. 3, 2017.
Dylan Lewis: One of the things that I was happiest about, and I think maybe this is one of the things that also pushed the stock up as much as it did after the report, was, looking forward, management guided that revenue should come in somewhere between $51.5 billion and $53.5 billion for the next quarter. And this would be a 1.7% to 5.7% increase over where they were a year ago. I think the reason you have to be really psyched about this as an investor is, they're showing growth year over year in a quarter that isn't fiscal Q1, where they are typically doing blockbuster sales because of the holidays. So, it seems like we are not only back to growth this quarter, but going to at least continue moderate growth for the next couple quarters, if all things hold.
Evan Niu: Yeah. And another thing that's pretty impressive about the guidance for this coming quarter, the current quarter, is they're also leaving some room for some gross margin upside, in terms of the guidance. The last quarter, there was 38.5 [percent], and their current guidance is 38-39 [percent]. What's most impressive about that is, most of the time, when you're coming off the big fourth-quarter holiday season, you lose some operating leverage, so you're margins usually come down slightly because of the seasonality. For revenue to be coming down from seasonal factors to this 51.5-53.5 level and still being able to potentially put up a sequential increase in gross margin, that's pretty strong. I think the biggest factor that's contributing to volatility is all the currency stuff. But, if they could increase gross margin on a sequential basis after losing leverage, it's pretty good. That's impressive.
Lewis: Yeah. Strong business, firing on all cylinders. Nice to see them back in a growth phase. Anything else that really came out to you in the report, Evan?
Niu: No. It was just really broad-based. They just hit these numbers, small little records, but all across the business. As an investor myself, it's pretty encouraging. There is this perception that Apple is at the end of the road, they're running out of ideas, they're peaking. And they're just like, "Hey, no, we can still squeeze out these gains if we really push and hit on all these sides of the business."
Lewis: And that's working with a top-of-the-line smartphone that really isn't all that different than the previous versions. I mean, this wasn't a crazy update to form factor, aside from, maybe, getting rid of the headphone jack and updating the camera. The phone still resembles what people expect of the iPhone. So, you think about what that might mean, were they to make some really serious updates in functionality, or do something radical with future versions of the phone. I think you have to like what that would do for the business.
Niu: Yeah. I thought it was the least impressive update in years. But, here we go. [laughs]
Lewis: Clearly 70 [million] people disagree with you. [laughs]