Apple R&D, property investments reach all-time highs in Q1

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In detailed earnings results for the first fiscal quarter of 2016, Apple said it spent more than $2.4 billion on research and development operations, while gross property and related expenditures grew to $51.3 billion.

According to a regulatory filing issued to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday, Apple's R&D expenses grew to $2.4 billion in the quarter ending in December. The sum equates to 3 percent of the company's total net sales for the period, roughly in line with previous quarterly outlays.

Apple attributes continued sector growth to increased employment and related expenses like share-based compensation and material costs. With $1.9 billion spent in December 2014, year-over-year change comes out to 27 percent, below the curve set by full-year expense growth. Total R&D expenses for fiscal 2015 came in at $8.1 billion, up 34 percent from $6 billion in 2014, which itself grew 35 percent from $4.5 billion 2013.

During Tuesday's earnings conference call, CEO Tim Cook said Apple has no intention of scaling back capital commitments to new product research. The company has traditionally held R&D expenses to 3 percent of quarterly sales.

"We're continuing to invest without pause," Cook said during the call's Q&A session. "We have some great things in the pipeline and we very much believe strongly in investing through downturns such as the one that everyone's going through."

Related to R&D, land and building investments grew by almost $775 million since September. By comparison, growth was at $885 million for during the three-month period ending in June 2015 and $444 million in the period prior. Overall land and buildings expenses reached $7.7 billion in the first quarter of 2016, contributing to $22.3 billion in total net property, plants and equipment resources.

Apple is widely rumored to be conducting research into an electric vehicle dubbed "Project Titan," an ambitious undertaking expected to eat up both R&D money and property. Last year AppleInsider learned Apple was using a secret facility in Sunnyvale, Calif., as its base of operations, but the company is thought to be looking at other leased properties as Titan's team expands. Earlier this week, sources told AppleInsider that Titan was in flux as executives attempt to refocus the initiative, potentially leading to the departure of former project lead Steve Zadensky.