October 24, 2020

Apple (AAPL) earnings Q3 2020

Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, speaks during an Apple special event at the Steve Jobs Theater in Cupertino, California, March 25, 2019.

Stephen Lam | Reuters

Apple is set to report fiscal third-quarter earnings after the bell Thursday, offering a crucial update on the company’s standings amid the coronavirus pandemic. Despite widespread retail closures during the quarter, especially in the United States, Apple previously touted both work-from-home trends and strong online sales as delivering a boost to overall operations.

Here’s what Wall Street is expecting:

  • EPS: $2.04, according to Refinitiv consensus estimates
  • Revenue: $52.25 billion, according to Refinitiv consensus estimates

While the pandemic has deeply impacted Apple’s operations, the company’s stock has nonetheless continued to rise. As of Wednesday’s close, Apple shares were up 29.6% in the past three months, outperforming the S&P 500, which is up 13.7% over the same time period.

The company didn’t provide guidance for the third quarter, so how well it’s actually fared during the pandemic will be on most investors’ minds. Investors will also be closely watching to see if Apple issues forward-looking guidance for the quarter ending in September.

A successful quarter for Apple is often judged by hardware sales. Morgan Stanley’s Katy Huberty wrote in a note last month that her firm is expecting “stable near-term” iPhone and iPad shipments, and believes that consumers are starting to feel confident buying technology again. 

Apple’s services business is also critical for the company. In 2019, it brought in over $46 billion, accounting for nearly 18% of the company’s revenue. Apple publicly set a goal for services revenue to top $50 billion in fiscal 2020. However, services launched last year, such as Apple TV+ and Apple News+, don’t appear to have gained a lot of traction, and the company’s most important service, the App Store, has drawn criticism, including during a congressional hearing Wednesday. 

One big question facing the company is when new iPhone models will be launched this fall. The company hasn’t commented on any disruptions to its launch process, but the pandemic has made business travel significantly harder. China’s battle against the virus and associated shutdowns earlier this year could make the ability to produce millions of complicated computers on schedule significantly harder.

This is breaking news. Please check back for updates. 

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