Apple, Twitter Recap – light and dark outlook  

<p>iPhones sales strong For a 12th straight quarter, Apple beat earnings forecasts. Sales of its flagship iPhones though, missed analysts’ average forecast by a whisker. […]</p>

iPhones sales strong

For a 12th straight quarter, Apple beat earnings forecasts.

Sales of its flagship iPhones though, missed analysts’ average forecast by a whisker.

48.05 million iPhones were bought in the three months to the end of September, Apple’s fourth fiscal quarter.

The world’s biggest company in market capitalisation terms was widely slated to sell around 48.72 million.


No ‘pop’

Given that handset sales were the most hotly anticipated part of the California company’s quarterly report, cheer from trounced earnings expectations was only moderate.

The stock closed regular market trading at $114.50 and added an additional 25 cents in the specially extended ‘after-hours session’—though it had risen as much as 3% higher at one point in the evening.

This modest advance contrasted sharply with Apple stock’s long history of earnings-fuelled late night ‘pops’.

However, there was still palpable relief among investors, after a number of high profile market watchers had warned that the impact of China’s slowdown on Apple’s recently expanded product sales might have been underestimated.

Additionally, investors seemed inclined to focus on the forthcoming holiday quarter, the biggest-selling season for consumer-facing industries.

Investors note strong indications that China’s input could bring significant upside surprises for Apple, due to development of ‘holiday’ seasonality in the country.


What China Slowdown?

Apple forecasts revenue between $75.5bn and $77.5bn in its current quarter.

That’s largely in line with an average estimate of $77.17bn, compiled by Thomson Reuters.

The added spice comes from the widely held view that Apple regularly ‘games’ earnings expectations.

Its typical strategy is to offer conservative official forecasts whilst its informal messages suggest far stronger results are possible.

In the post-results conference call, some comments by Apple CEO Tim Cook followed this pattern.

China would be Apple’s “top market in the world” he said, whilst the company was on track to “achieve 40 stores in China by middle of next year”, from 25 currently.

Perhaps the choicest Cook comment though was made on the sidelines of the press event.

He told CNBC reporter Josh Lipton that he saw “no sign of a slowdown in China”.

He was comparing a visit to the country last week to a trip he made in the summer.


Apple Q4 earnings/outlook summary

  • Net income rose 31% $11.12bn
  • EPS rose 38% to $1.96—analyst forecasts had ranged between $1.88-$1.91
  • Net sales rose 22% to $51.50bn—average forecast: $51.11bn
  • Greater China sales nearly doubled year/year to $12.52bn; ¼ of total revenue, but below Q3’s $
  • Q1 revenue forecast between $75.5bn- $77.5bn—average analyst forecast $77.17bn (Thomson Reuters)



Twitter disappoints again

Forty miles up the California coastline, the overall tone of Cisco-based Twitter’s quarterly report and conference call were in stark contrast to Apple’s.

The struggling social media company beat profit and revenue estimates, but its shares tumbled 13% after it offered no respite from the disappointing revenue growth of recent quarters.

Q4 revenue would be between $695m and $710m Twitter execs said during Tuesday night’s call.

Analysts on average had been expecting $739.7m according to Thomson Reuters.

Twitter users rose, but, as in the previous quarter, the number of new regular users Twitter logged was below expectations.

Twitter had 320 million average active monthly users in the third quarter, up from 316 million in the prior quarter, but analysts had hoped the figure would be 324 million.

Rapidly scaling competition from Instagram (whose total users were reported to have recently surpassed Twitter’s) and another Facebook-owned product, Messenger will further undermine market views on Twitter’s future.

As this article was going online, its stock was down 10% at $28.20 in US ‘pre-market’ trading.


Twitter Q4 earnings/outlook summary

  • Revenue rose 57.6% to $569.2m—compared to analysts’ average forecast of $559.4m
  • GAAP net loss narrowed to $131.7m or $0.20 cents per share
  • Underlying EPS was $0.10 cents—analysts had forecast 5 cents
  • Q3 adjusted EBITDA was $142m up more than 100% year-on –year; better than Twitter’s forecast range of $110m-to $115m; 21% above consensus



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