While Apple’s fiscal 2019 will be remembered as a year of ups and downs, growth of the company’s subscription services last quarter helped reverse serious holiday season and second quarter shortfalls. Today, Apple announced its fourth quarter 2019 results, top-lined by revenues of $64 billion, slightly higher than the year-ago quarter: Services revenue grew sharply, while earnings from both iPhones and Macs fell somewhat below last year’s levels.
In July, Apple told analysts to expect fourth quarter revenues in the $61 to $64 billion range, with a gross margin between 37.5% and 38.5%. Ahead of the announcement, analysts expected sales of $63 billion, up only slightly from actual sales of $62.9 billion in Q4 2018, and $2.83 in estimated earnings per share, down from $2.91 one year ago. Actual earnings per share were $3.03, up 4%, though net income was down to $13.686 billion from $14.125 billion.
“We concluded a groundbreaking fiscal 2019 with our highest Q4 revenue ever, fueled by accelerating growth from Services, Wearables, and iPad,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook. “We’re very optimistic about what the holiday quarter has in store.”
For the quarter, Apple says it sold $33.362 billion in iPhones, $6.991 billion in Macs, and $4.656 billion in iPads. Its combined “wearables, home and accessories” sales were $6.52 billion, while services hit $12.511 billion, another record. The numbers represent year-over-year drops for both iPhones and Macs: One year ago, iPhones were at $37,185 billion, Macs were at $7.411 billion. But the numbers are up for iPads, wearables, and services, which during last year’s quarter were at $4.089 billion, $4.234 billion, and $9.981 billion, respectively.
Geographically, net sales eased down from $15.382 billion to $14.946 billion in Europe, and similarly slid year-over-year from $11.411 billion to $11.134 billion in Greater China, as well as Japan, which fell down to $4.982 billion from $5.161 billion. However, Apple saw some improvement in the Americas, which grew to $29.322 billion from last year’s $27.517 billion of total revenues, and the Asia Pacific region, which went up to $3.656 billion from $3.429 billion in the year-ago quarter. Apple notes that international revenues accounted for 60% of its quarterly revenues.
For the first fiscal quarter of 2020, Apple is predicting revenue between $85.5 and $89.5 billion, in any case higher than its disappointing Q1 2019 holiday numbers, and possibly above its $88.3 billion 2018 holiday quarter. It also expects a gross margin between 37.5% and 38.5%, operating expenses between $9.6 and $9.8 billion, $200 million of other income, and a tax rate of 16.5%. Once again, the company is issuing a $0.77 per share cash dividend, payable on November 14 to shareholders on record as of November 11, 2019.
Today’s results come one year after Apple decided to stop reporting unit sales for key products such as iPhones, iPads, and Macs, in favor of merely reporting revenues across those categories. In prior years, the company had sold well over 200 million iPhones annually, but the numbers were expected to flatten or dip for a variety of reasons after impressive 2018 quarters. Meanwhile, the “other products” or “wearables, home and accessories” category’s sales of wireless AirPods headphones and Apple Watches grew in dollar value without any breakdown of units sold, leaving their individual sales figures to be estimated by analysts.
The Q4 2019 numbers include early contributions from the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro, released in September, as well as the Apple Watch Series 5 and substantially discounted Series 3. Apple has also launched multiple subscription services in recent months, including Apple News+, Apple Card, and Apple Arcade, with Apple TV+ arriving two days from now, though early reviews have been decidedly mixed, leaving the upside for Apple somewhat unclear after significant investments in the offerings.