Consumer Electronics

Apple, Up Over 40%, Leads Dow Higher This Year

The stock market became move volatile last month, and the trend has continued into October. Despite trading near new record highs, the Dow Jones industrial average is up only 13.92% to 26,573.72 in 2019. One of the Dow’s 30 stocks is outpacing that by miles. The shares of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) are up 43.91% to $227.01. Negative sentiment after its most recent earnings report has disappeared. The stock could get another push up when it releases earnings on October 30.

Among reasons the stock price has improved so much is the release of new products and services. The good news about early Apple 11 sales has been an especially strong tonic. Rumors recently published claimed that Apple suppliers have been told to increase the production of the Apple 11 model sharply. Apple’s newest smartphone triggered a turnaround. The iPhone X did more poorly than most experts expected. It had particular trouble with traction in China, the world’s largest wireless market and also the most competitive due to strong local rivals.

As iPhone sales have improved, Apple’s management as argued that its Services business would replace the iPhone as the company’s growth engine. It is not an easy argument to make. Services revenue in Apple’s most recently reported quarter was $11.5 billion, out of a companywide total of $53.8 billion. iPhone sales totaled $26 billion.

The launch of Apple TV+ is critical to the new services strategy. Apple already has a huge music store. Its app store is by far the largest in the industry. By some estimates, total apps downloaded since the store started are more than 130 billion. Many experts believe app store sales cannot continue to grow at rates they have over the past decade.

All this means that Apple’s bet on TV is absolutely critical. At $4.99 for the first month, after a seven-day free trial, it is aggressively priced compared to industry leaders Amazon and Netflix, which have price points of $12.99 a month. Apple’s management has gambled that, although its library of content is limited compared to the leaders, the low price, the Apple brand and the hundreds of millions of iPhones, iPads and Macs in the world are large enough base to which it can market its streaming service.

A significant number of investors have bought into Apple’s new iPhone and services plan. Its market cap is back near the $1 trillion level. When it announces earnings in the coming weeks, that likely will be the catalyst to keep Apple’s share growth rate well ahead of the Dow’s — or to push it down from extraordinary levels.