The Dow Jones Industrial Average ( ^DJI 0.00% ) had tumbled 0.82% by 2:15 p.m. EDT Thursday, driven lower by uncertainty surrounding the U.S.-China trade deal and weak manufacturing data.
Shares of Apple ( AAPL 3.55% ) managed to buck the trend, rising after the tech giant overcame weak iPhone sales to post solid fourth-quarter results. Boeing ( BA 1.43% ) stock wasn't so lucky, slumping after reports of the grounding of 50 older planes emerged.
Apple beats on wearables and services strength
There was no recovery for the iPhone business in Apple's fiscal fourth quarter, but the company managed to grow revenue and per-share earnings thanks to the Apple Watch, a burgeoning services business, and plenty of share buybacks. Apple stock was up 1.8% after easily beating analyst estimates across the board.
Total revenue was up 1.8% year over year to $64 billion, nearly $1.2 billion higher than analysts were expecting. iPhone sales tumbled 9.2% to $33.4 billion, but non-iPhone revenue picked up the slack. Wearables, home, and accessories revenue soared 54% to $6.5 billion, while services revenue jumped 18% to $12.5 billion.
Earnings per share were up 4.1% to $3.03, beating analyst estimates by $0.19. But net income was actually down 3.1%, driven lower by a decline in gross margin and higher operating expenses. Apple poured nearly $67 billion into share buybacks over the past year, pushing down the share count and leading to per-share earnings growth despite the lower net income.
The iPhone 11 launched toward the very end of the quarter, so it had little effect on the company's results. But CEO Tim Cook gave investors an update during the earnings call: "We are very thrilled with what we're seeing in early going on iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max. It's early but the trends look very good."
While the iPhone business is still struggling, the rest of Apple's results were good enough to drive the stock higher.
50 Boeing 737 NG planes reportedly grounded
One day after Reuters reported that Qantas Airways and Southwest Airlines were increasing checks for structural cracks on Boeing's 737 NG planes, news agency Agence France Presse reported that the aircraft manufacturer has grounded 50 planes globally over the cracks issue. Shares of Boeing were down 1.3%, underperforming the broader market.
The 737 NG is an older model than the 737 MAX, which is grounded worldwide due to software problems that caused two fatal crashes in late 2018 and early 2019. The first 737 NG was delivered in 1997, and the company has delivered thousands of the planes over the past 20 years.
This news comes a month after the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration began requiring some 737 NG operators to conduct inspections following the discovery of cracks on a small number of planes.
The 50 planes being grounded represent a small portion of the total install base of the 737 NG, but this move may indicate that the problem has increased in scope. With Boeing already dealing with the disastrous 737 MAX, another safety problem is the last thing the company needs.