Apple Is Best Performing Dow Stock of 2017

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Apple Inc.’s (NASDAQ: AAPL) earnings may not have been spectacular, but they were good enough. Shares have risen over 6% in the past five days, which includes the earnings report date. For 2017, they are higher by 11.45% to $129.08. That is the only double-digit improvement of any of the Dow Jones Industrial Average stocks.

Over the same period, the Dow has risen 1.56% to 20,071.46, just above the magic 20,000 figure. None of the other tech stocks in the index are up nearly as much. The closest is International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE: IBM), up 5.92% to $175.82.

In Apple’s most recent quarter, sales of its core products did well. CEO Tim Cook said:

We’re thrilled to report that our holiday quarter results generated Apple’s highest quarterly revenue ever, and broke multiple records along the way. We sold more iPhones than ever before and set all-time revenue records for iPhone, Services, Mac and Apple Watch.

The overall financial results, however, were not particularly strong compared with the same quarter a year ago. Apple’s revenue for its first fiscal quarter, which ended December 31, 2016, was $78.4 billion, against $75.9 billion last year. Per-share earnings were $3.36, compared to $3.28 last year.

Compared to the similar quarter of last year, iPhone sales rose 5% to 78.29 million. iPhone revenue rose at the same pace to $54.38 billion.

Apple’s forecast, which is always considered conservative, was also relatively strong:

Apple is providing the following guidance for its fiscal 2017 second quarter:
revenue between $51.5 billion and $53.5 billion
gross margin between 38 percent and 39 percent
operating expenses between $6.5 billion and $6.6 billion
other income/(expense) of $400 million
tax rate of 26 percent

Finally, part of the enthusiasm about the company is the expectation that the iPhone 8 will launch in the fall. Rumors about the smartphone and its size and features are already floating around the internet. In the meantime, iPhone 7 sales will need to robust enough to show the aging product has legs beyond the holiday season.