Stocks were already having a good session when the Federal Reserve Chairman Jay Powell signaled that rate increases could be on hold, sending indexes higher still. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) and the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) posted significant gains.
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Technology stocks took off following positive earnings reports, with the Technology Select Sector SPDR ETF (NYSEMKT:XLK) soaring 3.1%. Consumer names jumped on the Federal Reserve news; the Consumer Discretionary Select SPDR ETF (NYSEMKT:XLY) rose 2%.
Apple grows earnings despite iPhone sales decline
Apple's revenue fell due to a previously announced drop in iPhone sales, but the company managed to beat profit expectations for its fiscal first quarter, and shares rose 6.8%. Net sales fell 4.5% to $84.3 billion and earnings per share grew 7.5% to $4.19, $0.01 above the analyst consensus.
Revenue from iPhone sales fell 14.9% to $52 billion, but revenue from all other segments of the company grew 19%. Net income was essentially flat from the period a year ago; the increase in EPS was due to a reduction in share count by 385 million after aggressive share repurchases.
Apple's services revenue jumped 19% to $10.9 billion, with the company saying on the conference call that it increased paid subscriptions by over 50% from a year ago to 360 million and expects to reach half a billion subscriptions in 2020. Gross margin for services was reported for the first time, and was a strong 62.8%, up 4.5 percentage points from Q1 last year and 1.7 points from last quarter.
Illumina reports a profit decline
Gene-sequencing leader Illumina reported fiscal fourth-quarter results that missed profit expectations, and shares fell 4.5%. Revenue increased 11.4% to $867 million, beating the consensus estimate of $864 million. Non-GAAP earnings per share fell 8.3% to $1.32, $0.04 below what Wall Street was expecting.
Sequencing consumables sales grew 8%, lower than historical averages in part because some Chinese customers had stocked up earlier in the year in advance of tariffs. Instrument sales jumped 22%. Gross margin in the quarter slipped 1.8 percentage points to 69.1% due to changes in product mix and lower margins in the services business.
Looking forward, Illumina forecast that 2019 revenue will increase 13%-14%, which is below analysts' expectations of 14.4% growth, and also said that seasonal weakness in the first half of the year may be greater than usual. Illumina, which will be digesting a major acquisition this year, did predict that 2019 consumable sales growth will exceed 20% -- a pleasant surprise to analysts on the conference call.
Jim Crumly owns shares of Apple and Illumina. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Apple and Illumina. The Motley Fool has the following options: long January 2020 $150 calls on Apple and short January 2020 $155 calls on Apple. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.