Why Services Will Push Apple Stock to the Next Level

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) has been a market leader for years now and, even through this COVID-19 pandemic, the iPhone giant is still out in the front. Apple stock did take a hit in late-February and March, but it was only 8% off of its February highs, which is impressive, all things considered. Apple owes this overall solid performance to its rapidly growing services business and increased Apple Watch sales.

In the Dow Jones industrial average, Apple ranks as one of the components with the best year-to-date performance. The tech sector has been leading the charge toward recovery on Wall Street. This tech giant, along with others like Microsoft, Amazon and Nvidia, has been the tip of the spear in this effort.

Tech companies with e-commerce models and online services have been the biggest beneficiaries of the coronavirus crisis. Although Apple does not primarily operate as an e-commerce company, the services business is becoming much more robust. Also, the Apple Watch appears to be an unexpected winner from COVID-19 as well.

Location, Location, Location

Apple’s services business has been gaining momentum for years now, and it appears to be accelerating faster than ever. In Apple’s most recent quarterly report, revenues for the services business increased 16.6% year over year to $13.35 billion, making up about 23% of all of Apple’s revenues for the quarter.

The services business will only grow from here. Apple announced in mid-April that it would be expanding its services business to 20 additional countries. This means Apple’s most popular services (the App Store, Apple Arcade, Apple Music, Apple Podcasts and iCloud) will be available across even more new markets. Apple Music is especially favored in this because the service expands its reach by 52 new countries.

Following this expansion, the App Store will conduct business in 175 countries and regions. Currently, Apple boasts half a billion people visiting the store each week.

Even though Apple may not have physical locations in many of these places, the company is still capable of capitalizing with its services business, making location a nonissue.

Watch Out for Apple

Research firm Strategy Analytics recently released a report on global shipments of smartwatches. While there were many that criticized the Apple Watch when it first came, the smartwatch trend appears to be picking up. According to Strategy Analytics’ report, smartwatch shipments rose by 20.2% year over year in the first calendar quarter of 2020 to 13.7 million units.

With the most iconic brand in the world, Apple took the lion’s share of these shipments and accounted for 55.5% of all sales, shipping 7.6 million units, an increase of 22.6% year over year.

Fighting a brand war with Apple is tough, to say the least. Of all publicly traded companies in the world, Apple has one of the strongest balance sheets. In fact, the balance sheet is so strong that the company has instituted a $50 billion share buyback plan. This company doesn’t mess around, and the competition should watch out.

In terms of the Apple Watch, the competition is not even close. The number two in terms of global shipments, Samsung, shipped 1.9 million smartwatches in the quarter, up from 1.7 million a year ago. Third-place Garmin shipped 1.1 million, up from 800,000 in the same quarter of last year.

Samsung’s total was good for a market share of 13.9%, while Garmin snagged an 8.0% share. Samsung’s share dropped a full point, while Garmin’s rose by an equal amount. Other vendors accounted for 3.1 million units and a 22.6% share.