Even though Apple posted earnings weaker than the year-ago quarter, the company surpassed what Wall Street expected it to deliver. As a result, analysts are optimistic about the company's resilience.
Apple announced its total revenue for the quarter ending March 2023 on Thursday. It earned $94.3 billion, less than the $97.28 billion earned in quarter two of 2022. However, the earnings per share for the quarter remained unchanged at $1.52, the same as the year-ago results.
On average, Wall Street analysts predicted that Apple would earn $92.94 billion in revenue and $1.43 earnings per share.
Apple has maintained its policy of not providing official revenue guidance for upcoming quarters, which was implemented at the beginning of the pandemic in previous announcements. However, in notes to investors seen by AppleInsider, analysts are relatively optimistic about Apple's numbers in the June quarter.
Although Cowen expects iPhone units for the calendar year 2023 to be down 3% year-over-year, analysts here believe investors should be encouraged by the smartphone's results in the second quarter, as it brought in $51.3 billion in revenue for the period, up from $50.6 billion from the year-ago quarter.
"We believe the refreshed product portfolio is leading to better blended pricing and helps to partially offset unit declines in the non-iPhone segments," Cowen said. "Services business continues to be healthy but Y/Y growth is trending at MSD% due to a challenging backdrop for search advertising and mobile gaming."
"Jun Q revenue guidance for -3% Y/Y (with ~400bps FX headwind) is modestly below the Street view, but we think steady margins and cost trends will be an overall positive," it continued. "We believe AAPL is still a defensive name on strong shareholder returns."
Cowen rates Apple stock an outperform and maintains its price target of $195.
Gene Munster believes the strong performance of Apple's stock indicates that investors are giving greater importance to the company's active device base.
"A growing base means the Apple product flywheel is working which is the foundation for the Apple investment case to shift to a consumer staples company that should yield a higher multiple," he writes. "On top of that, AI and India represent untapped opportunities for the company."
Munster also anticipates that investors will change how they view Apple. Over the next five years, he says, they will increasingly see Apple as a "can't live without" consumer staples company, and the company's growing active installed base is evidence of that.
Analysts Samik Chatterjee and Joseph Cardoso say Apple pleasantly surprised investors with its resilience in a challenging macroeconomic environment. However, they expect the average iPhone revenues across the March and June quarters to be flat year-over-year, led by a few factors.
- Share gains in the underlying smartphone industry across most geographic markets
- Pricing power that continues to drive pricing higher year-over-year relative to underlying pricing challenges for other brands as well as the supply chain
- Aggressively driving the business towards new growth opportunities, like those offered in countries like India, to ensure that volumes are more resilient than the global industry backdrop
"The only area where we assume investors would have looked for more of an improvement in growth is Services, with growth stabilizing in recent quarters at the mid- to high-single digit level, while investors are likely looking for modest improvements as the macro impact moderates," they write. "Overall, as we pointed out in our earlier thoughts heading into earnings, the results and guidance are exactly what investors were looking for from the company to feel reassured of its defensive positioning and at the same time the greater resilience of Big Tech in general in the current macro."
JP Morgan rates Apple stock as overweight and maintains its price target of $190.
Analysts from Morgan Stanley say Apple's March and June quarters align with its expectations. The iPhone's strength in emerging markets beat the firm's forecast by 3%, and discuss what to look at next.
"Looking forward, we continue to believe that what matters most to the Apple story will be iPhone 15 cycle expectations, underappreciated gross margin expansion, when — and by how much — Services growth reaccelerates, and the upcoming AR/VR headset launch," they write. "And we reiterate Apple as our Top Pick."
Morgan Stanley is raising its price target for Apple to $185, up from $180.
Analysts Harsh V. Kumar and Rober Aguanno say Apple's June guidance was slightly short, even as the company "nicely beat" Wall Street expectations for the March quarter. Services, and the iPhone, had a record quarter, but the performance from the iPad and Mac was down.
"Overall, we were extremely pleased with the execution by the company in a very tough macro environment," they write.
"We also note that AAPL is excelling in emerging markets which could be responsible for substantial growth in the near to midterm.
"Emerging markets coupled with services remain the key areas for growth," they continued.
Piper Sandler rates Apple as overweight and moves its price target to $180, down from $195.
Wedbush says Apple delivered impressive iPhone results and gave a relatively upbeat outlook going forward. It says Wall Street should be confident that Apple is riding out macroeconomic headwinds in a "Rock of Gibraltar-like fashion."
Analysts believe Apple is setting itself up for a new "mini super cycle" since it estimates that 25% of the company's installed base haven't upgraded their iPhone in four years, "despite the murky macro heading into the anniversary iPhone 15 expected to launch in the September timeframe."
Wedbush maintains its outperform rating for Apple stock along with its $205 price target.