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Apple Just Closed a Record Fiscal Year, Despite COVID-19 – Motley Fool

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Even without any new iPhones, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) just reported a slew of records in its fiscal fourth-quarter earnings release yesterday. The iPhone 12 and 12 Pro were unveiled earlier this month, after the Mac maker had already closed the books on the quarter, but strength across other parts of the business helped partially offset the decline in iPhone revenue.

Here’s everything you need to know about Apple’s Q4 results.

iPhone 12 and 12 Pro launched after the quarter closed. Image source: Apple.

Every non-iPhone segment crushed it

Revenue came in at $64.7 billion, a cool $1 billion ahead of the consensus estimate. That translated into net income of $12.7 billion, or $0.73 per share, topping the $0.70 per share in profits that Wall Street was expecting. Remember that Apple did a 4-for-1 split in August, which is why that EPS figure may look light.

As expected, iPhone revenue declined by over 20% to $26.4 billion as customers anxiously awaited the new models. The wholesale shift to remote work and learning has driven a broad boom in demand for laptops and tablets, which pushed Mac and iPad revenue to all-time records. Mac revenue was $9 billion while iPad revenue was $6.8 billion, despite the Cupertino tech giant facing supply constraints for virtually all major products, an imbalance that persists to this day and now includes the new iPhones.

Services revenue hit a new record at $14.5 billion, and that segment has now generated $54.8 billion in trailing-12-month (TTM) sales. In other words, Apple has handily beat the goal of doubling services revenue it laid out so many years ago. There are now 585 million paid subscriptions being billed through the company’s various platforms, putting another goal set by CFO Luca Maestri earlier this year — hitting 600 million paid subscriptions by the end of 2020 — within easy reach.

As part of Apple’s ongoing efforts to shift attention away from plateauing iPhone sales, it has been highlighting revenue growth excluding the iPhone in recent years. This figure has been accelerating quite well, hitting 25% last quarter.

Chart showing Apple's revenue growth excluding iPhone sales over time

Data source: SEC filings and author’s calculations. Chart by author. Fiscal quarters shown.

The iPhone installed base has hit a new all-time high, although management did not disclose a specific figure. Independent analyst Neil Cybart recently estimated that iPhone users have reached 1 billion. Fiscal 2020 was a record year with revenue of $274.5 billion.

Giving cash back

Apple repurchased $18 billion worth of stock during the quarter, bringing full-year buybacks to an astounding $72.5 billion. Total cash was $191.8 billion, and factoring in $112.4 billion in debt brings net cash to $79.4 billion. Slowly but surely, the company continues to make progress on the “net cash neutral” goal that Maestri set back in early 2018.

Chart showing Apple's net cash position over time

Data source: SEC filings. Chart by author. Fiscal quarters shown.

The board has authorized a quarterly dividend of $0.205 per share, which will be payable to shareholders of record as of Nov. 9.

Looking ahead

Maestri stopped providing specific financial guidance earlier this year due to all of the ongoing macroeconomic uncertainty related to the pandemic but did offer some commentary. Of course, iPhone revenue will soar next quarter, even though the new iPhone 12 lineup is launching meaningfully later than in prior years due to coronavirus-related delays that have impacted the supply chain.

All other products and the services business are expected to grow by double-digit percentages. Gross margin should be roughly flat, as the seasonal operating leverage that Apple typically enjoys over the holidays is offset by the heightened costs that are normally associated with new product launches. Fortunately, foreign exchange headwinds have mitigated, so Maestri doesn’t expect currency fluctuations to be a major issue.

CEO Tim Cook said Apple is working as hard as it can to overcome supply constraints. That will be critical to the company’s execution in the weeks ahead, which will include the launch of iPhone 12 Mini, iPhone 12 Pro Max, and potentially even more products that have been rumored, like AirTags or an Arm-based Mac.

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Britain in talks with 6 firms about building gigafactories for EV batteries

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Britain is in talks with six companies about building gigafactories to produce batteries for electric vehicles (EV), the Financial Times reported on Wednesday, citing people briefed on the discussions.

Car makers Ford Motor Co and Nissan Motor Co Ltd, conglomerates LG Corp and Samsung, and start-ups Britishvolt and InoBat Auto are in talks with the British government or local authorities about locations for potential factories and financial support, the report added .

 

(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Himani Sarkar)

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EBay to sell South Korean unit for about $3.6 billion to Shinsegae, Naver

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EBay will sell its South Korean business to retailer Shinsegae Group and e-commerce firm Naver for about 4 trillion won ($3.6 billion), local newspapers reported on Wednesday.

EBay Korea is the country’s third-largest e-commerce firm with market share of about 12.8% in 2020, according to Euromonitor. It operates the platforms Gmarket, Auction and G9.

Shinsegae, Naver and eBay Korea declined to comment.

Lotte Shopping had also been in the running, the Korea Economic Daily and other newspapers said, citing unnamed investment banking sources.

South Korea represents the world’s fourth largest e-commerce market. Driven by the coronavirus pandemic, e-commerce has soared to account for 35.8% of the retail market in 2020 compared with 28.6% in 2019, according to Euromonitor data.

Shinsegae and Naver formed a retail and e-commerce partnership in March by taking stakes worth 250 billion won in each other’s affiliates.

($1 = 1,117.7000 won)

 

(Reporting by Joyce Lee; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)

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Canada launches long-awaited auction of 5G spectrum

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Canada is set to begin a hotly anticipated auction of the mobile telecommunications bandwidth necessary for 5G rollout, one that was delayed more than a year by the pandemic.

The 3,500 MHz is a spectrum companies need to provide 5G, which requires more bandwidth to expand internet capabilities.The auction, initially scheduled for June 2020, is expected to take several weeks with Canadian government selling off 1,504 licenses in 172 service areas.

Smaller operators are going into the auction complaining that recent regulatory rulings have further tilted the scales in the favour of the country’s three biggest telecoms companies – BCE, Telus and Rogers Communications Inc – which together control around 90% of the market as a share of revenue.

Canadian mobile and internet consumers, meanwhile, have complained for years that their bills are among the world’s steepest. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government has threatened to take action if the providers did not cut bills by 25%.

The last auction of the 600 MHz spectrum raised C$3.5 billion ($2.87 billion) for the government.

The companies have defended themselves, saying the prices they charge are falling.

Some 23 bidders including regional players such as Cogeco and Quebec’s Videotron are participating in the process. Shaw Communications did not apply to participate due to a $16 billion takeover bid from Rogers. Lawmakers and analysts have warned that market concentration will intensify if that acquisition proceeds.

In May, after Canada‘s telecoms regulator issued a ruling largely in favour of the big three on pricing for smaller companies’ access to broadband networks, internet service provider TekSavvy Inc withdrew from the auction, citing the decision.

Some experts say the government has been trying to level the playing field with its decision to set aside a proportion of spectrum in certain areas for smaller companies.

Gregory Taylor, a spectrum expert and associate professor at the University of Calgary, said he was pleased the government was auctioning off smaller geographic areas of coverage.

In previous auctions where the license covered whole provinces, “small providers could not participate because they could not hope to cover the range that was required in the license,” Taylor said.

Smaller geographic areas mean they have a better chance of fulfilling the requirements for the license, such as providing service to 90% of the population within five years of the issuance date.

The auction has no scheduled end date, although the federal ministry in charge of the spectrum auction has said winners would be announced within five days of bidding completion.

($1 = 1.2181 Canadian dollars)

 

(Reporting by Moira Warburton in Vancouver; Editing by David Gregorio)

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