What happened 

July shined on Apple (AAPL -0.80%) as its stock climbed 18.9% over the month, according to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence.

The stock rallied as investors looked forward to a positive third-quarter earnings report and its streaming service, Apple TV+, saw success amid awards season. 

So what

Ahead of Apple's earnings report for its fiscal 2022 third quarter, three senior analysts gave positive recommendations for the stock. In the second week of July, KeyBanc's John Vinh gave his equivalent of a buy recommendation, despite decreasing his price target.

On July 8, Bank of America's Wamsi Mohan endorsed the stock, saying, "We are getting a lot of data points supporting a pretty decent quarter for Apple." Cowen's Krish Sankar then reiterated their sentiments by agreeing that the company's earnings would likely meet expectations. 

Bullish investors were rewarded on July 29 when Apple reported its net sales grew by 2% in the third quarter, an increase of $83 billion. The company enjoyed a positive quarter even while inflation soared and led many consumers to cut spending, and supply constraints resulted in component shortages. 

Apple's iPhone appeared to thrive in a less-than-ideal quarter, with sales increasing by 3% to $40.7 billion. However, the company's other products were not as lucky. Mac sales dropped 10% to $7.4 billion, while iPad sales fell 2% to $7.2 billion.

The company's services business continued to blossom, growing 12% to $19.6 billion, with paid subscriptions topping 860 million. The Apple TV+ streaming platform fared particularly well in July, earning 52 Emmy nominations. Apple's series Ted Lasso added to its success with 20 nominations, while newcomer Severance had 14 nominations. 

Now what 

During a conference call with analysts in July, CEO Tim Cook said, "The latest survey of U.S. consumers from 451 Research indicates iPhone customer satisfaction of 98%."

Cook added, "We also attracted a record number of switchers for the June quarter, with strong double-digit year-over-year growth." Like clockwork, Apple tends to stick to a September release schedule with new iPhones. So positive iPhone sales in a quarter without such a launch could portend a favorable fourth quarter.

While Cook has not forecast fourth-quarter earnings, the CEO said in a CNBC interview, "We expect revenue to accelerate in the September quarter despite seeing some pockets of softness." Investors will want to watch Apple's likely iPhone 14 launch in September and consumer reaction to the smartphone's updates to better gauge how well the company will do in its fiscal fourth quarter.