Apple Posts Mixed Results as CEO Cook Hints at New Products
Tech giant Apple posted earnings of $1.28 a share on revenue of $37.4 billion for the third quarter.
Analysts had expected the company to report earnings of $1.23 a share on roughly $37.98 billion in revenue, according to a consensus estimate from Thomson Reuters. The company's stock dropped slightly on the news.
"I couldn't be happier. This is the best execution of any quarter since I've been at Apple," CEO Tim Cook told CNBC.
For the fiscal fourth quarter, Apple is projecting revenues of between $37 billion and $40 billion, gross margins of between 37 and 38 percent, and operating expenses of between $4.75 billion and $4.85 billion. The company also announced a 47-cent per common-stock share dividend. The company's cash hoard rose to $164.5 billion.
CEO Cook praised the company's results, and said they're "excited about other products and services that we can't wait to introduce."
Brian Blair, analyst at Rosenblatt Securities said that, historically, the time leading up to Apple product launches are good times to buy the company's stock.
"If you look at the last five years of Apple product announcements in the fall, the stock does that about 95 percent of the time. It runs up and it often sells off actually after the products are seen. So there's no risk coming right now … very low risk," he told CNBC's Closing Bell.
Darren Chervitz, of the Jacob Internet Fund (which owns Apple), says he's not buying more Apple stock right now. "This is the most meaningless quarter in recent Apple history ... and even the guidance, which isn't particularly strong, is really meaningless as well, because who cares that the iPhone is going to be delayed," he said.
Questions remain as to what kinds of products Apple plans to release in the next several months to grow revenue or stave off competition in developed markets.
Wearables, iPhone improvements, and the company's recently announced partnership with IBM are all on analysts' minds.
Apple recently hired an executive out of luxury Swiss watch maker TAG Heuer, which analysts say is an attempt to link Apple's iWatch with the reputation the Swiss have for excellence in watchmaking.
"What I think is interesting about Apple is all the new chapters that can open up," JMP Securities analyst Alex Gauna told CNBC. "A lot of people are expecting an iWatch, and that's a big opportunity—it's a $10 billion market in wearables right now."
The company's shares rose last week on the news of a partnership with IBM to offer iPads and iPhones to business customers. Apple is still heavily focused on consumer technology, while IBM famously shed its consumer PC business a decade ago to focus entirely on business customers. In IBM, Apple gets a partner that can sell the devices to businesses that many employees probably already have at home.
"We've transformed the consumer experience," Cook told CNBC last week. "I'd love to be a part of transforming the enterprise experience. We can't do that alone. You need a lot of deep industry expertise that's not in our DNA, but is in IBM's DNA."
The Apple-IBM partnership could yield the best product pipeline Apple has had in 20 years, said Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster.
"Tim Cook's comments ... really are amping up those expectations about [what] Apple should deliver in the back half of the year," Munster said in an interview with CNBC's Closing Bell.
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Analysts are also looking for clues on when the technology giant will release its iPhone 6, which is expected to feature a bigger screen. The popular smartphone could see competition from Chinese firm Xiaomi, whose own CEO Lei Jun claims his company's new Android-based offering is "really better than the iPhone."
For now, the iPhone is a strong product—the iPhone 5S was released way back in September 2013, but it outsold a much newer and much-anticipated Samsung Galaxy S5 a month after that device's debut in May, according to Re/code. Still, the space is becoming more crowded with Android alternatives, and a company can only sell so many phones.
Apple's recently acquired Beats division, which makes high-end headphones and other audio products, could put some wind under its revenues. And the company recently signed on several automakers to carry its CarPlay system, which allows iPhone users to more safely access information on their smartphones while driving.
But investors seem most hungry for a next-big-thing home-cooked in Apple's own labs.
Though Apple shares enjoyed a recent rebound, many fund managers remain unenthusiastic about the company's prospects, citing a lack of exciting upcoming products in the company pipeline.
—By CNBC.com staff. Cadie Thompson contributed reporting.