The usually conservative Apple ( AAPL ) gave December-quarter sales guidance that topped Wall Street's target late Thursday as the company's flagship iPhone X went on sale in stores in Australia and Asia.
[ibd-display-video id=2497592 width=50 float=left autostart=true]On a conference call with analysts, Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook said he is "very bullish" about the company's prospects and expects "the best holiday season yet."
Late Thursday, Apple delivered fiscal fourth-quarter results that trounced expectations. It earned $2.07 a share, up 24% year over year, on sales of $52.6 billion, up 12%, for the period ended Sept. 30. Analysts expected EPS of $1.87 and sales of $50.79 billion.
For the current quarter, Apple guided to sales of $85.5 billion, topping consensus estimates for $85.31 billion. Apple didn't give an earnings target, but expects its gross profit margin in the December quarter to be 38%-38.5%, compared with 37.9% in the September quarter.
"As we closed the books on a very successful fiscal 2017, I have to say I couldn't be more excited about Apple's future," Cook said. "We had a particularly strong finish this year, generating our highest September-quarter revenue ever as year-over-year growth accelerated for the fourth consecutive quarter."
Apple's fiscal fourth quarter included a week and a half of sales for the company's iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus handsets. Apple's third new smartphone, the premium iPhone X, went on sale worldwide Friday.
The iPhone X supply is expected to be constrained for weeks, possibly months, but Cook dodged questions about whether that's a function of production capacity or demand.
"Orders already have been very strong and we're working hard to get iPhone X in consumers' hands as quickly as possible," Cook said.
He said he couldn't predict when Apple would reach a supply-demand balance for the iPhone X.
"The ramp for iPhone X is going well, especially considering that iPhone X is the most advanced iPhone we've ever created and it has lots of new technologies in it," Cook said. "We're really happy that we were able to increase week by week what we're outputting."
Apple's iPhone business is the company's largest, accounting for nearly 55% of total company revenue last quarter.
Services, the company's second largest unit at 16% of sales, turned in a stellar quarter. Revenue rose 34% year over year to $8.5 billion, driven by such offerings as the App Store, iCloud and Apple Music.
Apple stock received at least 16e price-target increases on Friday. Of those Wall Street firms raising their targets, all have buy ratings on the stock.
Drexel Hamilton analyst Brian White was the most bullish of the bunch. He upped his price target on Apple to 235 from 208 and kept his buy rating.
Guggenheim analyst Robert Cihra reiterated his buy rating on Apple and raised his price target to 215 from 200.
"We continue to see Apple setting up for its biggest iPhone upcycle in 3 years, driven by pent-up demand plus multiyear OLED rollout and meaningfully higher average selling prices," he said in a report.
The iPhone X is Apple's first smartphone with an organic light-emitting diode ( OLED ) display instead of a liquid crystal display (LCD) screen.
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