Apple surprises with iPhone sales, posts $100 bln buyback
NEW YORK – Reuters
Apple Inc has reported resilient iPhone sales in the face of waning global demand and promised $100 billion in additional stock buybacks, reassuring investors that its decade-old smartphone invention had life in it yet.
Apple’s quarterly results topped Wall Street forecasts, which dropped ahead of the report on growing concern over the iPhone. The Cupertino, California-based company also was more optimistic about the current quarter than most financial analysts, driving shares up 3.6 percent to $175.25 after hours.
Suppliers around the globe had warned of smartphone weakness, playing into fears that the company known for popularizing personal computers, tablets and smartphones had become too reliant on the iPhone. Sales of 52.2 million iPhones against a Wall Street target of 52.3 million was a comfort and up from 50.7 million last year, according to data from Thomson Reuters.
Apple bought $23.5 billion of stock in the March quarter, and said it planned to hike its dividend 16 percent, compared with a 10.5 percent increase last year. Analysts believe the heavy emphasis on buybacks will bolster share prices, but some investors wished Apple had found different uses for the cash.
“I’d hoped for more on the dividend side or maybe a strategic investment,” said Hal Eddins, chief economist for Apple shareholder Capital Investment Counsel on May 1.
“I assume Apple can’t find a strategic investment at the current prices that will move the needle for them. The $100 billion buyback is good for right now but it’s not exactly looking to the future.”
The cash Apple earmarked for stock buybacks is about twice the $50 billion market capitalization of electric car maker Tesla Inc. Apple posted revenue for its March quarter of $61.1 billion, up from $52.9 billion last year. Wall Street expected $60.8 billion.