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Welcome Back, Apple

By Evan Niu, CFA - Updated Apr 7, 2017 at 7:01PM

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Apple returns with a vengeance.

Hello there, old friend. Last quarter, I recall you needed to take a little bit of a breather. You had gone for years on end pummeling Wall Street estimates to a pulp, not missing a beat since 2004. A little R&R was justified; even the best need rest.

I don't blame you. You had a lot going on. You had just lost Steve Jobs (although technically after the fiscal quarter closed). The media kept hassling you about the delayed launch of the latest iPhone. These things happen. I knew you would make it up to me, Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL).

And then some
Every single one of Apple's reported results was a bona fide blowout, in line with the hints we had picked up. Top-line revenue added up to an astonishing $46.33 billion, a 73% rise from the prior year's $26.74 billion. Gross margin jumped from 38.5% to 44.7%. Net income soared by 118% to $13.06 billion, which turns out to $13.87 per diluted share. That last bit is worth reiterating: The largest tech company on Earth is still putting up triple-digit profit growth.

The bottom line wasn't the only figure seeing triple-digit growth. iPhone and iPad unit sales both more than doubled, with 37.04 million iPhones moving, a 128% gain, and 15.43 million iPads being taken home, a 111% jump.

The iPhone explosion makes sense considering that Nielsen figures show the device catching up with Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) Android's market share. The 4-million-unit head start and expanded carrier distribution didn't hurt, either.

CEO Tim Cook said management had "made a very bold bet entering the quarter as to what the demand would be." Translation: We ordered up a mother lode of iPhones hoping they would move. Despite this "bold bet," Apple ended up with a backlog and was still short on supply in some areas. Cook said, "I think many of you would have thought [we were betting bold] if you would have known what we were doing," before saying Apple didn't bet high enough.

A matter of perspective
Some of these digits would benefit from additional perspective. The $46.33 billion cleared in sales in this single quarter exceeds the revenue that the entire company did as recently as fiscal 2009, which saw $42.9 billion in revenue. The iPhone segment alone rang up $24.4 billion in sales, topping Apple's total revenue from fiscal 2007, the year the original iPhone was introduced, which was $24 billion.

There's been talk recently of Apple taking the crown of top PC maker in the world from Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ), measured by shipments, and assuming that the iPad counts as a PC. By this gauge, Apple sold 20.6 million Macs and iPads combined, trouncing the 14.7 million PCs that HP is estimated to have moved last quarter.

The iPad alone bested that total. Macs put up 26% unit sales growth, far outpacing the relatively flat broader PC market.

Win some, lose some
iPhone average selling prices continue to move higher, although at a slower pace than I had expected. While I had speculated iPhone ASPs could reach as high as $750 with the iPhone 4S price points, I thought it would actually end up just shy of $700. iPhone ASP ended up being $659 in the quarter, a healthy bump from the $645 a year ago, but short of my hopes. This oversight on my part was likely due to underestimating the impact of older models selling in emerging markets.

Source: investor.apple.com.

iPad ASP actually saw a drop from $629 last year to $593. This is likely due to lower pricing on first-generation iPads, which are still sold refurbished to clear inventory, whereas last year the first generation was the only generation. There could also be a product mix shift toward entry-level prices as adoption has clearly accelerated.

Apple: globetrotter extraordinaire
Of its international segments, Japan saw the most growth, with sales in the region jumping by 148%. Europe and Asia Pacific were neck and neck with 55% and 54% revenue growth, respectively. The Asia Pacific figure doesn't even factor in the iPhone 4S launch in China, which took place just this month. That region saw the highest growth in Mac units, though, rising 58%.

Overall, 58% of revenue came from abroad.

The gateway device
iPod was the only segment to contract, with units and revenue falling 21% and 26%, respectively. This is a continuation of an existing trend. The 15.4 million units sold were actually ahead of Apple's internal expectations.

More important, over half of those sales are iPod Touches, which notably run iOS. As Apple's most important OS, these devices act as a gateway device to the iPhone and iPad, particularly for youth.

Stupid rich
Apple is beyond stupid rich with the money mountain it has. Cash and investments now tower at $97.6 billion. With that figure steadily approaching 12-digit territory, it's a natural topic of discussion. On the conference call, CFO Peter Oppenheimer said, "we are actively discussing the best uses of our cash balance," refraining from elaborating further.

Cue dividend and acquisition speculation.

A dividend of some type is a distinct possibility under Cook, and we all know how I feel about Apple acquisition speculation. Either way, I've never been particularly concerned with the swelling bankroll of Benjamins, since Cook knows how to use it.

With a vengeance
Cupertino is starting off fiscal 2012 with a bang. It shows that last quarter's "miss" was meaningless, and that Apple is resuming its expectation-demolishing ways after stopping to catch its breath.

Welcome back, Apple.

Speaking of all these huge numbers, the mobile revolution is also set to become the next trillion-dollar revolution, with Apple leading the way. There are lots of companies that are set to cash in on it, but one in particular has excellent prospects. The company is one of a few players that will help power the mobile devices of the future, and it also has exposure to the explosive growth in China. As bullish as I am on Apple, I'm also bullish on this stock, and I've given it an "outperform" CAPScall. Get access to this 100% free report to find out what company I'm talking about.

Fool contributor Evan Niu assumes that Apple stashes its bankroll as $100 bills in mattresses, which would require 463,289 king-size mattresses. He owns shares of Apple, but holds no other position in any company mentioned. Click here to see his holdings and a short bio. The Motley Fool owns shares of Google and Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Google and Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended creating a bull call spread position in Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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