What's the Story Behind Apple's Ever-Growing Revenue Pie?

In this segment from the MarketFoolery podcast, host Chris Hill and Motley Fool Chief Investment Officer Andy Cross talk Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) , which put out yet another remarkable set of quarterly numbers. This was its fourth straight period of double-digit percentage growth and its seventh consecutive quarter of accelerating growth.

For the tech giant, the Fools say, it's less of a big question anymore how much it can hike its iPhone unit sales, because it can keep raising average prices and hold on to its market share. And the rising revenue from its services and wearables segments demonstrates just how strong its ecosystem is. Yet even after its recent share price gains, by some measures, the stock is anything but overvalued.

A full transcript follows the video.

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This video was recorded on Aug. 1, 2018.

Chris Hill: Apple shares up 5% this morning. Third quarter revenue, $53 billion. Of course, that's a big, impressive number. More impressive to me is, this is the fourth consecutive quarter that they've grown revenue by double digits.

Andy Cross: And it's the seventh consecutive quarter that it's been accelerating. That's a lot of fruit. They're selling a lot of fruit, and they're charging more for that fruit, too. There's been a lot of concerns and thinkings about how many actual units of iPhones, which is really their big revenue driver, they will sell quarter-to-quarter. That was basically flat to down a little bit this quarter. What was interesting is, the average selling price continues to inch up, as they offer the iPhone X, and the average selling price was up 20%. You raise the prices 20% on your biggest revenue driver, and you can see how revenues can get up to the 17% level.

Hill: That's the thing. For a long time, the question about Apple has been, how many more of these things can they sell? To your point, it's like, is the unit growth enormous? No, it's not, but the selling price is.

Cross: The unit growth ... it's not the marginal story, but the really impressive thing with Apple, what they're doing -- and frankly, they've been doing this for the past couple of years -- they're starting to see the benefit of moving more to offer the Services. The Services revenues now account for about 18% of overall sales. Their Wearables business is really starting to take off. I think revenues were up 60% this quarter. That and Services now are at a record high of $9.5 billion of sales.

So, it's really starting to have an impact, this network of how we are tied into our Apple universe. We're getting more and more connected and more and more deep into this, and it's starting to show up on the P&L for Apple.

Hill: All of this is happening in the third quarter, which is historically the weakest quarter for Apple. Whatever has happened with Apple's stock in the past, say, five to six years, this is not the quarter that anyone has ever looked at and said, "Boy, they really need to crush it."

Cross: Yeah. Everyone expects something coming out in the fall. Their new cycle comes out, a new product offering. The iPhone X has been a really nice success for them, especially from the pricing perspective. It's having growth across the world in so many of their markets. But really, the excitement is always in the fall, when they come out with maybe a new offering, or a new device, whatever it may be, something new that consumers and investors can lock onto.

But clearly, their business is rolling in momentum. You look at the size of the organization now, $950 billion, really ticking up against that trillion-dollar mark. Frankly, they probably would have been a trillion-dollar company if they weren't buying back so much stock and paying that little dividend. They pay a dividend of 1.5%, which comes out to about $13 billion a year. They buy back more than $60 billion a year, and they spend about $14 billion in capex.

This is basically exactly what Warren Buffett and his team saw at Berkshire Hathaway two years ago when they started buying the stock below $100 a share. And, they were recognizing this as the largest consumer technology company, but really a branded consumer product that people resonate to as they push more and more into high-margin Service revenues that we're all now using in whatever it might be, and, in their Wearables business. That generates an immense amount of cash flow that they can't invest fast enough, so they have to buy back stock and pay their dividend.

Hill: Given all the big numbers we're throwing around -- you mentioned the fact that Apple is bumping right up against that $1 trillion market cap number, which they'll hit at some point, if not later today then possibly later this week or month. Maybe this sounds, on the surface, like a crazy question. Am I right that this is still kind of a cheap stock?

Cross: It's really interesting, I was talking to our friend Mac Greer about this earlier today -- they do more than $250 billion in sales. Like I said before, they generate more than $50 billion in net income. On a $950 billion stock, with $250-260 billion in cash, minus out the $100 million or so in debt, you have a market multiple and the earnings power -- now, granted, a lot of that earnings this quarter was generated by a generous effective tax rate. It dropped from 23% down to 13% on the effective side, the effective tax rate. Still, that net income matters, because the company can use it.

You're talking about a company that sells at a cheaper earnings multiple than the S&P 500. And just from the earnings side -- and really, frankly, from the revenue side -- it's probably growing faster than the market. There are not organizations, historically, that are this size and are able to grow that fast. That's where everyone gets a little concerned. Then, you have slowing unit growth on the iPhone sales. The investor base is like, "I'm not going to pay up for that price. I'm not going to pay more than the market." But, clearly, over the past couple of years, it's been an amazing performer, at that size of a company. Full kudos to Tim Cook and his team for what they've done there over the last couple of years.

Andy Cross owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway (B shares). Chris Hill has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Apple. The Motley Fool has the following options: long January 2020 $150 calls on Apple and short January 2020 $155 calls on Apple. The Motley Fool recommends Berkshire Hathaway (B shares). The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy .

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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