Seeking Alpha

Apple Inc. (AAPL)

  • Today, 3:09 PM
    • Japan's Nikkei reports Apple (AAPL -0.5%) will launch iPhones sporting OLED displays starting in 2018. To date, the company has exclusively used LCDs for its retina displays.
    • The paper adds securing enough OLEDs to meet Apple's needs (the company sells over 200M iPhones/year) could be difficult, and that Apple will "work over the next year or so" with suppliers to see if it can obtain enough displays and eliminate technical drawbacks such as performance degradation.
    • iPhone LCD supplier LG Display (LPL +6.9%), which has already unveiled plans to invest ~$8.5B in OLED manufacturing through 2018, is said to be "planning capacity upgrades." OLED materials/IP provider Universal Display (OLED +5.2%) have caught a bid on the Nikkei's report; LPL was already higher on the day.
    • OLEDs have long been a staple on Samsung's Galaxy S and Note lines. Supporters of the technology praise its high contrast/deep blacks and potential thickness and power consumption advantages. Apple, however, has argued its LCDs provide superior color accuracy.
    • There have long been rumors Apple is thinking of adopting OLEDs. The company recently filed a patent application for an integrated OLED display and touch panel, with a fingerprint reader located underneath.
    • Earlier: Apple buys Star Wars motion capture tech developer Faceshift
    • Five months ago: Apple reportedly working on iPhone design that eliminates home button
    | Today, 3:09 PM | 10 Comments
  • Today, 10:12 AM
    • Apple (AAPL -0.3%) has bought Faceshift, a Zurich-based developer of technology for turning facial expressions into avatars and other animated material in real-time, for an undisclosed sum. TechCrunch reports several Faceshift employees are now working for Apple,
    • Faceshift's technology, which can be used with off-the-shelf hardware, was used in Star Wars: The Force Awakens to make the facial expressions of non-human characters appear more human. It has also been applied towards gaming, where avatars can be altered based on a gamer's real-life expressions. (promo video)
    • The acquisition follows Apple's 2013 purchase of former Kinect motion sensor tech provider PrimeSense, and its 2015 purchase of multi-sensor camera module developer LinX, whose modules enable (among other things) depth sensing and 3D image capture. It also comes two months after Apple launched (via the iPhone 6S/6S+) Live Photos, a camera feature that animates a photo when a user taps on it.
    | Today, 10:12 AM | 17 Comments
  • Mon, Nov. 23, 11:21 PM
    • Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is expecting to bring Apple Pay to China as soon as February, Dow Jones is reporting.
    • Sources told The Wall Street Journal that the company has made deals with China's big four state-run banks, which will allow linked banked accounts.
    • Still unclear, the report says, is what transactions will cost there or what regulatory hurdles are yet ahead. Apple is reportedly hoping to launch the service before Feb. 8 and the Spring Festival.
    • In other headwinds, China UnionPay holds a monopoly on credit and debit processing, while private-sector e-payments are dominated by Alibaba's Alipay, and Tencent's WeChat.
    • The tech giant had launched its payment system in the UK in July, its first foray outside the U.S. At that time, it had plans in place to extend the system to China, South Korea and Canada, and has moved to Canada and Australia since the summer.
    | Mon, Nov. 23, 11:21 PM | 52 Comments
  • Fri, Nov. 20, 5:17 PM
    • A Texas jury ruled Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) didn't infringe five anti-piracy patents owned by Pendrell's (NASDAQ:PCO) ContentGuard subsidiary. It also ruled Apple didn't prove the patents are invalid.
    • Google and Samsung were cleared of infringing the same patents in September; Pendrell plunged in response. ContentGuard sued Apple in 2013, alleging the DRM technology used by iTunes and iBooks infringed its IP.
    • In a brief 8-K filing, Pendrell says ContentGuard is "assessing the jury's findings and evaluating its options to challenge the verdict."
    | Fri, Nov. 20, 5:17 PM | 10 Comments
  • Thu, Nov. 19, 12:36 PM
    • Universal Display (OLED +9.6%) is up 17% over the last two days. Possibly helping: The USPTO has published a patent application from Apple (has long been the subject of rumors it's testing/thinking of using OLEDs) for an integrated OLED display and touch panel, with a fingerprint reader underneath.
    • In the application, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) states integrating an OLED stack and touch sensors on a silicon substrate "can allow for an extremely high number of pixels per inch," and that arranging OLED sub-pixels side-by-side with touch sensors "can also lead to a wider viewing angle display with a higher contrast ratio, higher brightness, and more vibrant colors without compromising touch sensitivity."
    • Also: Reuters has published an article highlighting LG's recent OLED TV price cuts, made possible by recent production improvements and plant investments. Two sets now sell for less than $2K. LG Display (LPL +3.2%) recently promised to invest at least KRW10T ($8.5B) in OLED manufacturing through 2018.
    • Universal jumped two weeks ago after beating Q3 estimates and narrowing its full-year guidance. Shares are at their highest levels since August.
    • Update: Also of note: Korea's Digital Times reports LG Display plans to invest (perhaps using the funds previously allocated for OLED expansion) up to $4.2B to build a new OLED plant in Paju, South Koirea. The plant is expected to go into production in the 2017-2018 timeframe.
    | Thu, Nov. 19, 12:36 PM | 10 Comments
  • Wed, Nov. 18, 7:41 AM
    • The market is set to shift focus from hardware growth to installed base monetization and recurring revenue, says analyst Simona Jankowski, upgrading Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) to Conviction Buy with $163 price target (43% above yesterday's close).
    • The company has a significant opportunity over the next few years to increase the monetization potential from its 500M iPhone user base, she says, also noting the stock is trading at a 30% discount to the S&P 500 multiple.
    • Shares +1.6% premarket to $115.45.
    | Wed, Nov. 18, 7:41 AM | 147 Comments
  • Wed, Nov. 11, 3:54 PM
    • The WSJ reports Apple (AAPL -0.4%) is talking with JPMorgan, Wells Fargo, and other banks about launching a P2P mobile payments service that would be linked with Apple Pay, and compete with PayPal's (PYPL -1.4%) Venmo service. Users would be able to "zap payments from their checking accounts to recipients through their Apple devices." A 2016 launch is reportedly possible.
    • Any revenue collected by Apple from the service would likely be tiny for a company of its size - Apple reportedly gets $0.15 for every $100 of credit transactions done via Apple Pay, and half a cent on Apple Pay debit transactions. The primary goal, rather, would be to provide another service that helps keep users loyal to Apple's ecosystem.
    • PayPal has fallen moderately in response. The lion's share of the company's transaction volume comes from merchant payments (where Apple, Amazon, and others already compete) rather than P2P. Facebook and Google have dabbled in P2P payments via services attached to Messenger and Gmail/Google Wallet.
    • Separately, iPad Pro reviews have arrived. The 12.9" tablet's display (2732x2048 resolution), multitasking features, and Apple Pencil stylus get high remarks, but many reviewers question whether the device can act as a fully-fledged laptop replacement. Reviews: Walt Mossberg, David Pogue, Wired, The Verge, TechCrunch, WSJ.
    | Wed, Nov. 11, 3:54 PM | 44 Comments
  • Tue, Nov. 10, 8:24 AM
    • Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) has cut component orders by as much as 10% of late, according to the Credit Suisse Asia Technology Team. "In our view, the continued weak supply chain news could weigh on Apple shares for the next few weeks/quarters," says analyst Kulbinder Garcha.
    • Apple remains an Outperform with $140 price target at CS, with the team noting high retention rates, continued installed base growth, and the optionality of a smaller 4-inch iPhone.
    • Shares -1.9% to $118.25 premarket
    | Tue, Nov. 10, 8:24 AM | 153 Comments
  • Mon, Nov. 9, 11:28 AM
    • Two months after unveiling the device, Apple (AAPL -0.7%) states online orders for the 12.9" iPad Pro will begin on Nov. 11. The tablet, aimed in large part at business users and creative pros, will arrive at Apple stores, carriers, and resellers later this week.
    • As previously announced, pricing starts at $799 (32GB, Wi-Fi-only). The most expensive model (128GB, Wi-Fi/4G) goes for $1,079. The Apple Pencil stylus accessory sells for $99, and a Smart Keyboard for $169. Smart Covers will be sold for $59, and silicone cases for $79. The Pro runs on an A9X CPU, is 6.9mm thick, supports split-screen multitasking, and is said to deliver 10 hours of battery life.
    • Apple is hoping the Pro will give a boost to its broader iPad sales, which fell 20% Y/Y in calendar Q3 to $4.3B. Last month, Microsoft launched the Surface Pro 4, which sports a 12.3" display, runs on Intel Skylake CPUs, and starts at $899.
    | Mon, Nov. 9, 11:28 AM | 74 Comments
  • Thu, Nov. 5, 3:46 PM
    • Digitimes reports Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) has placed orders with Synaptics (SYNA -0.6%) for LCD driver ICs that will go into 2016 iPhones. Synaptics' Renesas SP Drivers unit has long been an iPhone driver IC supplier.
    • The Digitimes report comes five months after one stating Apple is working on TDDI (integrated touch controller/display driver) ICs for future iPhones that will also have integrated fingerprint sensors. Digitimes' sources now state Apple's TDDI chip development "has fallen behind schedule." However, it also adds Apple has hired senior engineers from Renesas SP to assist its effort.
    • Synaptics is an early leader in the TDDI market, having landed design wins with various Android OEMs. Himax is a rival.
    | Thu, Nov. 5, 3:46 PM | 10 Comments
  • Tue, Nov. 3, 4:00 PM
    • On Nov. 23, GT Advanced (OTCPK:GTATQ) will auction sapphire furnaces it purchased with the help of loans from Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), and divide the proceeds. Anything not sold will be handed to Apple, which will scrap the equipment. GT intends to keep as many as 600 furnaces.
    • The agreement, which still needs to be approved by a bankruptcy judge, extinguishes Apple's $439M claim against GT. GT had previously agreed to sell off ~2,000 sapphire furnaces to pay down the claim, but hasn't yet been able to sell any of them. The company has been facing a Dec. 31 deadline to get the furnaces out of Apple's Mesa, AZ facility, which is in the process of being converted into a data center command center.
    • GT, 13 months removed from filing for Chap. 11, obtained $95M in debtor-in-possession financing in July. Major job cuts were and a CEO change were announced in August. Shares have risen to $0.32 on the pink sheets.
    | Tue, Nov. 3, 4:00 PM | 17 Comments
  • Wed, Oct. 28, 10:11 AM
    • After finishing after hours trading nearly flat in the wake of its FQ4 beat and in-line FQ1 guidance, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is higher in morning trading. Possibly helping out: Pac Crest's Andy Hargreaves, who downgraded last year shortly following the iPhone 6 launch, has upgraded to Overweight and set a $142 target.
    • Hargreaves: "Expectations for the 6S cycle have fallen and we see March as the low point for growth ... We see Apple as a sustained share gainer in [smartphones] with pricing that is likely to remain protected by Apple’s brand, ecosystem and the extraordinary utility of the iPhone." He now expects 75.9M FQ1 iPhone sales, up slightly from 74.5M a year earlier.
    • FBR's Daniel Ives (Outperform, $175 target): "Apple investors were bracing for the worst and hoping for the best, and they ultimately received a B+ quarter/guide that was better than feared ... With Cook & Co. forecasting year-over-year iPhone unit growth off Herculean comps in the December quarter with China remaining white hot, we believe last night was a major step in turning the positive tide around the Apple story."
    • BTIG's Walter Piecyk (Buy, $160 target): "Tim Cook also indicated that iPhone units would grow, which should be welcome news to investors after recent soft commentary from US wireless operators about upgrade rates ... we continue to expect Apple to generate $10 in EPS in Fiscal 2016, reflecting 8% EPS growth, thanks to the continued aggressive share repurchase."
    • Mizuho's Abhey Lamba (Neutral, $125 target): "While [iPhone] shipments were relatively inline, ASP of $670 was significantly better than consensus of $649 resulting in a meaningful upside to the segment’s revenue. iPads in the meantime continue to decline with the quarter’s unit and revenue drop being ~20% Y/Y. While management does not disclose Watch sales, they were likely in the 3.0-3.5 million units range vs consensus of 3.75 million units."
    • Prior Apple coverage, earnings call transcript
    | Wed, Oct. 28, 10:11 AM | 29 Comments
  • Tue, Oct. 27, 7:11 PM
    • FQ4 iPhone (NASDAQ:AAPL) sales rose 120% Y/Y in mainland China (driving 99% total Greater China revenue growth), CFO Luca Maestri mentioned on the earnings call. Meanwhile, Tim Cook insisted Chinese macro conditions remain good, and talked up the potential for middle class growth and rising 4G penetration to boost iPhone sales in China and other Asian markets. Over 50% of Chinese iPhone buyers were first-time buyers.
    • Also mentioned by Cook: A strong dollar is expected to have a 700 bps impact on FQ1 revenue growth, after having an 800 bps impact in FQ4. With last year's iPhone 6 launch yielding tougher comps, FQ1 guidance implies 1%-4% Y/Y revenue growth (8%-11% exc. forex), down from FQ4's 22%. Cook expresses confidence iPhone sales will rise Y/Y, and sees smartphone upgrade programs (both Apple's and carriers') shortening upgrade cycles.
    • Maestri defends the iPad (revenue -20% Y/Y in FQ4), stating sell-through was 10.3M units (above sell-in of 9.9M, but still down from year-ago sell-in of 12.3M) as channel inventories fell, and that Apple has 73% of the $200+ segment of the U.S. tablet market. Customer satisfaction is said to be at 97%.
    • Also mentioned: 1) 30% of iPhone buyers upgrading an existing smartphone are believed to be former Android users. 2) The recently-launched Apple News has 40M users. 3) Apple's enterprise sales of $25B over the last 12 months (previously disclosed) reflects ~40% Y/Y growth. 4) App Store revenue rose 25% Y/Y. 5) Apple Watch shipments rose Q/Q, and are expected to rise again in FQ1. However, no specific numbers are given. 6) 15 acquisitions were made in FY15 (only some are known).
    • AAPL +0.4% after hours to $115.00.
    • Live blogs: WSJ, Business Insider, MarketWatch
    • FQ4 results/FQ1 guidance, details
    | Tue, Oct. 27, 7:11 PM | 68 Comments
  • Tue, Oct. 27, 4:58 PM
    • Lifting Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) FQ4 EPS: Gross margin was 39.9%, up 190 bps Y/Y and above guidance of 38.5%-39.5%. FQ1 GM guidance is at 39%-40%. Also giving EPS a lift: Common stock repurchases totaled $13.3B.
    • Product line performance: iPhone revenue (63% of total revenue) +36% Y/Y to $32.3B; units +22% to 48M. iPad revenue -20% to $4.3B; units -20% to 9.9M. Mac revenue +4% to $6.9B; units +3% to 5.7M. Services (iTunes/App Store, AppleCare, Apple Pay, Apple Music) +10% to $5.1B. Other products (iPod, Beats, Apple Watch, peripherals) +61% to $3B.
    • Regional performance: Americas revenue +10% Y/Y to $21.8B. Greater China +99% to $12.5B (iPhone 6 demand). Europe +2% to $10.6B. Japan +9% to $3.9B. Rest of Asia-Pac +27% to $2.7B. International sales were 62% of revenue.
    • ASPs: iPhone ASP rose to $670 from $660 in FQ3 and $659 in FQ2 (also boosted EPS). iPad ASP rose to $433 from $419 in FQ3 and $430 in FQ2. Mac ASP was $1,205 vs. $1,257 in FQ3 and $1,231 in FQ2.
    • Financials: GAAP R&D spend rose 32% Y/Y to $2.2B, and SG&A spend 17% to $3.7B. Apple ended FQ4 with nearly $206B in cash/investments (much of it offshore), and $56B in debt.
    • Apple has declared its regular quarterly dividend of $0.52/share (1.8% yield). The next dividend is payable on Nov. 12 to shareholders on record as of Nov. 9.
    • AAPL +1.8% after hours to $116.60. Earnings call at 5PM ET (webcast).
    • FQ4 results/FQ1 guidance, PR
    | Tue, Oct. 27, 4:58 PM | 183 Comments
  • Tue, Oct. 27, 4:33 PM
    • Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL): FQ4 EPS of $1.96 beats by $0.08.
    • Revenue of $51.5B (+22.3% Y/Y) beats by $380M.
    • 48M iPhones (near expectations), 9.9M iPads (slightly below expectations), 5.7M Macs (near expectations).
    • Expects FQ1 revenue of $75.5B-$77.5B vs. a $77.1B consensus.
    • Shares +0.7% after hours.
    • Press Release
    • Update (4:38PM ET): Apple is now up 2.3%.
    • Update 2 (5:48PM ET): Apple has given back its gains: Shares are now down 0.4%.
    | Tue, Oct. 27, 4:33 PM | 198 Comments
  • Mon, Oct. 26, 5:35 PM
Company Description
Apple Inc designs, manufactures, & markets mobile communication & media devices, personal computers, & portable digital music players, & sells a variety of related software, services, accessories, networking solutions, & third-party digital content.
Sector: Technology
Country: United States