Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) reports first-fiscal-quarter results today after market close. While investors will certainly tune into the figures from Apple's earnings report, paying particular attention to unit iPhone sales, some of the most important news today could come from the earnings call following the release, where Cook could talk about the Apple Watch, Apple Pay, and more.
Here are three questions that will likely be asked during the call.
1. Can we expect an Apple Watch launch in Q2?
Given Apple's typical refusal to talk about future product plans, this question may not get an answer. But since Apple's website says that the watch is coming "early 2015," analysts will almost certainly probe Cook with a number of Apple Watch questions.
If Cook does say the Apple Watch launch is planned for Q2, investors will want to know whether sales of the device are factored into guidance. If projected Apple Watch revenue is factored into guidance, this could give investors some insight into management's expectations for the device.
Of course, any commentary on Apple Watch at all would be both welcome and useful for investors. But given Apple's tendency toward product secrecy, I'm not getting my hopes up.
2. Is Apple Pay a big enough success to impact financials?
Apple's October-launched mobile payment service, Apple Pay, is catching on fast. It is undoubtedly a hit with banks and credit card companies. And it is growing on consumers and merchants. Today, over 220,000 locations already accept Apple Pay. Further, Apple says that credit card issuers behind 90% of credit card purchase volume already support Apple Pay.
With Apple Pay use probably growing rapidly, investors are curious to know about the service's potential impact on Apple's financials in both the near- and and long term. For now, estimating Apple Pay potential is nothing but guesswork. Adding to the difficulty in understanding Apple Pay's impact, while Apple reportedly collects fees for Apple Pay transactions from banks and credit card companies, these fees are undisclosed. Some clarity from management on how this growing service could affect Apple's gross profit margin and earnings would be useful.
3. How does Apple feel about share repurchases with Apple stock trading higher?
Apple stock is up 16% since it reported fourth-fiscal-quarter results on Oct. 20. Barring a pullback after the company reports earnings today, some investors may wonder how the company thinks of share repurchases with the stock's valuation looking pricier. Does Apple management still believe Apple stock is undervalued?
Given that Apple typically updates its dividend and share repurchase program in March or April, investors will also be curious about whether the update should be expected during the same time frame again this year. Apple has boosted its dividend and share repurchase program every year since it was introduced in 2012. With Apple's cash hoard and annual free cash flow still on the rise, the tech giant's plans for its cash will likely get lots of attention leading up to its annual update to the program.
To review analyst expectations for Apple's revenue, EPS, and iPhone sales, before the company reports first-quarter results today, go here. And check back at The Motley Fool following the earnings release for post-earnings Apple coverage.