Apple beats Wall Street, investors wary of China sales

28 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Apple Pay coming to Australia this year.

Apple has just announced that its much-hyped payments service, Apple Pay, is heading to Australia later this year, at least for customers of American Express.Shares of Apple (AAPL) are up 63 cents at $115.18, in late trading, giving up some earlier gains, after the company’s conference call with analyst to discuss fiscal Q4 results that topped analysts’ expectations, and a Q1 outlook for revenue that was slightly lower than consensus. The tech giant used part of its Q4 earnings call, where it announced a quarterly profit rise of 31 per cent, that its partnership with American Express will expand to users in Australia and Canada in 2015 and Spain, Singapore and Hong Kong in 2016. As first reported by tech blog 9to5Mac Apple chief Tim Cook said on the call that Apple Pay would be made available only to “eligible American Express customers in these regions”, and will therefore be a reduced rollout compared with users in the UK or the US.

The additional $51 billion in revenue the company generated in the fiscal year, up 28%, was “more than the full-year revenue of almost 90% of the companies in the Fortune 500,” said Cook. The news comes as users reported earlier this month that Apple started adding Apple Pay icons to some business listings, like Woolworths for example, in Apple Maps, hinting that the service would be available soon here.

China made up 24% of revenue, down from 27% in Q3 and well up from 15% a year earlier. “We returned almost $50 billion to shareholders … while continuing to invest confidently in research and development … and completed fifteen acquisitions,” said Cook. “We accomplished all of these things while intensifying our efforts to protect the environment, to promote equality and human rights, and to ensure the security and privacy we know our customers deserve.” Regarding the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, released in late September, “We exited the quarter with demand for our new iPhones exceeding supply, but we made good progress with our manufacturing ramp in the initial weeks of October.” Cook said the company’s sales of 5.7 million Macs, a new record, and up 3% from the prior-year period, was “continuing to defy the negative trends in the global PC market, which IDC estimates contracted by 11%.” I just returned from a four-day visit” to China, said Cook, during which he discussed renewable energy, and attended the opening of the company’s 25th store in the country. Consumer demand for smartphones is slowing worldwide, according to independent researchers, who say the combined sales of all brands are slowing because most people in developed nations already own a smartphone.

At its launch in the US Apple said more than 1 million credit cards had been registered on Apple Pay in its first three days of availability. “Our customers love their experience with Apple Pay and we want to bring it to as many of our users worldwide as possible,” said Jennifer Bailey, vice president of Apple Pay, in a statement. “With a global issuer like American Express, we are thrilled to seamlessly bring our easy, secure and private way to pay to more customers internationally.” Apple is still on target to achieve a stated goal of 40 stores by the middle of next year.” CFO Luca Maestri said the company had faced “severe and persisting weakness in foreign exchange rates around the world” that had affected all the company’s geographic markets. The company’s forecast for the current quarter, ending in December, suggests it will slightly surpass last year’s record for selling 74.5 million iPhones during the crucial holiday season.

Those factors should drive iPhone sales beyond the next quarter, Cook said, in response to analysts who suggested demand may still slow after December. Maestri commented on the company’s partnership with International Business Machines (IBM), which he said now has 30,000 Mac computers deployed in its own offices, and is adding 1,900 Macs each week.

While it remains the world’s biggest corporation, by market value, Apple’s share price has been off about 15 percent from a mid-July peak of $132.97. On a constant basis, the outlook this quarter is for growth of 8% to 11%, said Cook, given an expectation for revenue growth to be reduced by 7 percentage points from currency weakness. “We base that on what we’re seeing from a switcher point of view. We also look at the number of people that have upgraded that were in the installed base prior to iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, and that number is in the low 30 percentages. While smartphone sales are slowing globally, Apple has strengthened the iPhone’s appeal to upscale buyers by offering premium features like better cameras and faster processors, said Gartner analyst Brian Blau.

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