Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) has been the glue that has held the big tech sector together over the course of the past week. When the likes of Amazon (AMZN), Meta Platforms (META), Microsoft (MSFT), and Alphabet (GOOGL) reported poor or “OK” numbers with weak guidance, those stocks fell and some fell really hard.
Take a look at the performance for these stocks over the past six trading days:
Then comes AAPL who reported Q4 earnings towards the end of the week, and they were pretty solid. AAPL shares jumped nearly 8% the day after reporting earnings.
Given that the consumer is beginning to weaken, which has become more evident with the plummeting personal savings numbers which have been cleared out due to high inflation and rising interest rates, I believe the consumer headwinds are a cause for concern as it pertains to AAPL shares.
Apple reported Q4 2022 earnings that showed the following:
Apple beat on both the top and bottom line, but iPhone revenue and iPad revenue fell short. Mac revenue on the other hand surged higher, growing 25% over the prior year.
Apple did not provide any additional guidance for their Q1 2023 quarter, which tends to be the strongest quarter of the year, as it falls within the holidays.
Some of the revenue earned during the quarter was attributed to Q3 sales that were not fulfilled due to supply chain issues at the time, but most of those issues have been resolved.
When assessing a stock, it is always important to look from the outside in. I like to first focus on the macro environment and see how it can affect a specific company before looking more at company specific metrics.
From a macro environment standpoint, the headwinds are evident. It is not secret that Apple generates the majority of their revenue outside of the US and that means they continue to fight the currency headwind. Apple CEO Tim Cook stated that revenue would have grown “double-digits” if not for the strong US dollar.
Mr. Cook went on to explain that the “foreign currency headwinds were over 600 basis points during the most recent quarter”, which is quite significant.
Although the most recent quarter did not run into that many supply chain issues, as explained by the management team, one area that was supply constrained was the iPhone 14 Pro. Based on orders and wait times, the more expensive iPhone 14 Pro has been selling quite well. The iPhone 14 (regular) on the other hand not so much, and this is where a lot of rumblings have been coming out about suppliers pausing work based on Apple’s direction.
Apple glass supplier Corning (GLW) noted in their most recent quarterly report that smartphone and tablet sales slowed, which could book a look-through to the next quarter for Apple.
The next headwind is one that might hurt the worst, a weakening consumer. Recent financial data came out showing signs that the US consumer could be breaking down. The total US credit card balance hit $916 billion in September, as consumers turn to credit to help deal with high inflation. In addition, the boom in the personal savings rate that we heard about during the pandemic, is all but gone. In fact, the US personal savings hit $555.7 billion, which was the lowest levels seen since 2009.
A weakening consumer means that larger purchases, like iPhones, iPads, Macs, and all that will be second guessed.
And finally, the Services segment of Apple that many have been high on for years now, is beginning to slow. In Q4, the Services segment grew only 5%. In fact, total revenue by quarter has fallen for two consecutive quarters now for the first time ever.
To combat this, Apple did recently announce price hikes to many of their service offerings, such as: Apple Music, Apple TV+, and Apple One.
Apple has held the tech sector together for the most part in what was a brutal earnings season for the sector, but I do not foresee that being the case much longer. Apple themselves did not give any guidance, but they did give “direction” and that was mostly focused on a slow holiday season it was is typically their best quarter.
Given all of this and the headwinds I discussed, I believe it is important for analysts and investors to reset expectations with the stock.
Apple trades at a price to earnings multiple of 24x and I believe this is just much too high given expectations for the next year. Analysts right now are expecting EPS of $6.28 and revenues of $407.5 billion, which would equate to growth of 2.8% and 3.3%, respectively. Paying 24x for a company growing at those fractions is much too high, which is why I believe the stock needs to come down.
I love AAPL and believe it can be an essential part of your portfolio, but adding shares at these levels is not in the cards for me at the moment.
Disclaimer: This article is intended to provide information to interested parties. I have no knowledge of your individual goals as an investor, and I ask that you complete your own due diligence before purchasing any stocks mentioned or recommended.
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This article was written by
Mark Roussin is an active Certified Public Accountant (CPA) in the state of California. Mark has worked as a CPA, serving both public and private Real Estate corporations for over 10 years. Today, he provides his followers insights to both undervalued dividend stocks mixed with high-growth opportunities with a goal of them reaching financial freedom in the long-term. Mark tends to invest primarily in dividend stocks with a strong emphasis on Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs).
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Disclosure: I/we have a beneficial long position in the shares of AAPL, GOOGL, MSFT, AMZN either through stock ownership, options, or other derivatives. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.