While the figures from Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) expectation-crushing earnings release -- record iPhone sales, EPS growth of 48%, a mind-boggling top line of $74.6 billion, etc. -- were telling, a few new quotes from the company's live Q1 conference call following the release provided useful insight for Apple investors, too. Here are three must-see quotes from the call.
Apple Watch is coming
No more wondering what "early 2015," means. Apple Watch sales will begin in April, Cook said during the call. Perhaps more importantly, Cook says he thinks the Watch will be well received by customers.
"My expectations are very high on it. I'm using it every day and love it and I can't live without it," Cook said. "The number of developers that are writing apps more for it are impressive and we're seeing some incredible innovation coming out there."
Of course, you should expect a CEO to talk about his company's newest product in this way. But a year from now we will be able to look back on this quote to see whether or not Cook was right.
Growth in China is monstrous
If investors are looking for reasons Apple's iPhone business could still have upside going forward, China is the best answer. The world's largest smartphone market continues to look like a huge opportunity for the company.
"Our online revenues in China last quarter were more than the sum of the previous five years," Cook explained, illustrating just how impressive the growth in China has been for Apple recently. "And so it's an incredible market. I think people love Apple products and we are going to do our best to serve the market."
iPhone sales in the country were up 100% from the year-ago quarter, Apple CFO Luca Maestri explained during the call. This is particularly impressive since during the year-ago quarter the newest iPhone models were available in the country for the entire quarter; this year the new models weren't launched in China until the second half of October.
Maestri said during the conference call that it opened two new stores in Greater China in January. Further, he said Apple will have 20 stores soon and that it will double that number by mid-2016.
A capital return goldmine
Apple ended Q1 with a record $178 billion in cash plus marketable securities. The tech giant's growing war chest is hitting new highs in spite of an aggressive program to return cash to shareholders. Apple CFO Luca Maestri provided some helpful perspective on the giant sum of cash the company has already returned, as well as a specific time-frame for when the company will update its current capital return program.
We have now taken action on almost $103 billion of our $130 billion capital return program, including $73 billion in share repurchases, with four quarters remaining to its completion. In the last twelve months alone, we have returned over $57 billion to our investors. We review our capital return program on an ongoing basis. We continue to solicit feedback from a broad base of investors and we're on track to announce an update to the program in April when we report our second quarter results.
One analyst has suggested Apple could afford to return as much as $200 billion to shareholders over a three year period through stock buybacks and dividends. Most investors will likely be expecting Apple to announce both a bigger commitment to share repurchases and a dividend increase.