Apple Stock: Is Apple Inc. (AAPL) Stock A Buy Ahead Of Q1 Earnings?

Apple Stock Is Apple Inc. (AAPL) Stock A Buy Ahead Of Q1 Earnings
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Cupertino-based Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is expected to report its Q1 FY 2017 earnings on January 31, after the markets close. Wall Street analysts expect the company to report an EPS of $3.22 on revenue of $77.42B, implying a 1.83% YoY drop in earnings and a 2% YoY topline growth. To put things in perspective, the management had guided for revenue of $77B ($76B - $78B range) on its Q4 2016 conference call. This could be Apple's first quarter of growth, following 3 consecutive quarters of revenue declines. Apart from the top line and bottom line numbers, here are three other metrics investors will be keenly watching.

iPhone sales: Higher ASPs Will Drive YoY Growth

No Apple earnings report is complete without focusing on the iPhone segment. The iPhone segment contributed 63.4% of Apple's total revenues in 2016 and it is no surprise that investors will be keenly watching the unit sales and ASP trends in this segment. With a number of mixed reports coming through on the performance of the iPhone 7, the segment performance will offer a more accurate view of the performance of the latest iPhone models. Wall Street consensus expects the company to have sold 78M iPhones during the December quarter, implying a 4% growth in unit sales.

The segment will also benefit from growth in ASP, which was highlighted in recent commentary from UBS analyst Steven Milunovich, cited by AppleInsider. The Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP) survey found that Plus models represented 42% of total iPhone sales, compared to 26% a year ago. The higher percentage of the Plus models in the overall iPhone mix should drive ASPs closer to $695, as reported by the UBS analyst. This will represent a marginal improvement over the $695 ASP in Q1 2016. We believe that ASPs could easily come in at over $700, considering the higher mix of the plus models and also the incremental $20 pricing tiers of the iPhone 7 Plus models over the year ago iPhone 6S Plus models.

Guidance

In early January 2017, as reported in our earlier post, Nikkei had reported that Apple planned to cut production by 10%. With these reports doing the rounds, investors will be keenly watching the management's Q2 2017 guidance.The current analyst consensus anticipates Q2 2017 revenue of $54.03B (range of $50.71B to $58.21B), implying a 6.9% YoY drop in sales. A meaningful upside to current expectations coupled with a beat on the overall revenue/EPS/iPhone shipments could send Apple stock price significantly higher, following the upcoming earnings call.

The Performance Of Apple Services Segment

Apple's services segment was the 2nd largest revenue segment for Cupertino, over the last 3 quarters. The segment closed 2016 with $24.35B in revenue, outdoing the $22.8B revenue generated by the Mac segment and $20.63B revenue generated by the iPad segment. Moreover, the segment posted 22% YoY growth in 2016, making it Apple's fastest growing segment. With 60% gross margins, the services segment will also be margin accretive for Apple. This should have a meaningful impact on Apple's bottom line. Given the high growth and high margin profile of the services segment, this segment has emerged as a clear revenue/earnings catalyst for Apple, and investors will be closely tracking the performance of this segment.

Putting It All Together

Apple Inc. is scheduled to announce its Q1 2017 earnings report, after the bell, on January 31. Wall Street analysts expect the company to post 2% YoY top line growth, a break from 3 consecutive quarters of revenue decline. As always, Investors will be closely watching the performance of the iPhone segment, which has seen mixed reports from different sources. In context of recent reports of iPhone production cuts doing the rounds, the Q2 2017 guidance will be of great significance. A meaningful upside to current Q2 expectations could send Apple stock price higher in post-earnings trade. However, we believe that Apple stock is an attractive long-term investment, and long-term investors should use any post-earnings pullback to accumulate AAPL stock on the cheap.

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Virendra Singh Chauhan Virendra Singh Chauhan   on Amigobulls :

Neither Amigobulls, nor any members of its staff hold positions in any of the stocks discussed in this post. The author may not be a certified/registered investment advisor, and the opinions expressed should not be treated as investment advice. Buying and selling of securities carries the risk of monetary losses. Readers/Viewers are advised to carry out their own due diligence and consult their investment advisors before making any investment decisions. Neither Amigobulls, nor the author have any business relationship with any of the companies covered in this post.

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