AAPL 2024 Insights: Tech Stock Gameplan

NASDAQ: AAPL | Apple Inc. News, Ratings, and Charts

AAPL – After attaining the $3 trillion market value last year, can tech behemoth Apple Inc. (AAPL) garner further gains this year? Let’s look at its financial metrics to know more….

Apple Inc. (AAPL) made history in mid-2023 by being the first tech company to reach a $3 trillion market value, while the tech sector garnered significant investor attention due to the hype surrounding Artificial Intelligence (AI).

However, for the fiscal fourth quarter (ended September 30, 2023), the company’s total net sales declined marginally year-over-year to $89.50 billion due to weaknesses in the Mac and wearables segment.

Moreover, the iPhone maker forecasted weakness for its holiday quarter. About this forecast, the brokerage Bernstein said, “Apple’s revenue growth has stalled over the past few quarters – and appears likely to continue to stagnate over the next year.”

On top of it, Barclays downgraded AAPL on the backs of weak iPhone sales in China. Analyst Tim Long believes that this softness in sales will persist even after the company launches the iPhone 16 this year, as the model is unlikely to have any drastic updates compared to the latest model in circulation.

This paints an uncertain picture of this big tech company’s outlook. Therefore, investors could wait and monitor AAPL for an opportune moment to invest in its stock. Let’s look at the trends of its key financial metrics to gain further insight.

Tracking Apple Inc.’s Financial Performance: Analyzing Key Metrics and Growth Over Two Years (2021-2023)

The trailing-12-month net income of AAPL has shown a fluctuating trend over the last two years, from March 27, 2021, to September 30, 2023, with general overall growth seen.

  • On March 27, 2021, the net income of AAPL was noted at $76.31 billion.
  • This figure saw a steady increase, reaching its peak at $101.94 billion on March 26, 2022.
  • Following this, there was a slight dip in the subsequent quarters but still maintained above $99 billion until September 24, 2022.
  • Starting from December 31, 2022, a gradual downward trend emerged, with the reported net income standing at $95.17 billion, followed by $94.32 billion and $94.76 billion in the first two quarters of 2023, respectively.
  • However, a slight uptick occurred by the end of the third quarter, on September 30, 2023, with the net income value reported to be $96.99 billion.

From these figures, the growth rate from the initial to the final value shows a significant 27.09% increase in AAPL’s reported net income over these years.

The emphasis on more recent data reflects that even though there were some declines in the second half of 2022 and the start of 2023, the upward tick in the third quarter indicates potential resilience and recovery in AAPL’s profitability, with the final noted net income of $96.99 billion. This is a crucial trend to consider for future projections and appraisal of AAPL’s financial performance.

The trailing-12-month revenue trends and fluctuations of AAPL from March 2021 to September 2023 are as outlined: 

Annual Revenue Trend:

  • In March 2021, AAPL started with a revenue of $325.4 billion.
  • The revenue observed a steady increase, reaching up to $394.3 billion in September 2022.

From this data, the annual growth from March 2021 to September 2022 was approximately 21.2%.

Recent Fluctuations:

  • After September 2022, the revenues started experiencing a decrease.
  • The revenue decreased from $394.3 billion in September 2022 to $383.3 billion in September 2023, indicating a negative growth.

The most recent data shows that as of September 2023, AAPL’s revenue stands at $383.3 billion, reflecting a downward trend from its peak in 2022. Overall, between the first value in March 2021 and the latest in September 2023, there has been growth of approximately 17.8%.

The data series provided offers a view into the gross margin trends of AAPL. Beginning on March 27, 2021, decoding the data series unveils:

  • On March 27, 2021, the gross margin stood at approximately 40.00%.
  • An upward trend was observable over the next quarter as the gross margin climbed to 41.00% on June 26, 2021.
  • This upward momentum continued through September 25, 2021, when it reached 41.80%, and again into the end of the year, when on December 25, 2021, the gross margin touched 43.00%.
  • The margin hovered around 43.30% from March 26 to September 24, 2022, experiencing some stability in its fluctuation pattern.
  • A slight dip occurred at the end of 2022, decreasing to 43.10% on December 31, but this quickly corrected in the new year, rising to 43.20% on April 1, 2023.
  • The gross margin maintained a steady uptrend halfway into 2023, where it marked 43.40% on July 1. By the end of the third quarter of 2023, the gross margin reached a peak value of 44.10% on September 30.

The gross margin demonstrated an overall upward trend from the beginning of the series in March 2021 to the end in September 2023. The growth rate, calculated by measuring the last value from the first value, suggests a positive growth of approximately 4.10%.

However, there were periods of relative stability, such as roughly half of 2022, when the gross margin plateaued at around 43.30%. It’s also worth noting a slight dip at the end of 2022 before it continued on its upward trajectory throughout 2023.

This data underlines that although fluctuations (and some steady periods) were present within each fiscal quarter, the overall gross margin for AAPL increased over the specified timeline, reflecting positively on its economic performance.

The current ratio of AAPL exhibited a decreasing trend for the period from March 27, 2021, to June 25, 2022. It decreased from 1.14 in March 2021 to 0.87 in June 2022. However, from that point on, the numerical trend indicated a slight rebound, demonstrating minor fluctuations but ultimately climbing to 0.99 by September 30, 2023. Here are a few highlighted data points:

  • On March 27, 2021, the current ratio stood at 1.14.
  • There was a notable drop to 0.87 by June 25, 2022.
  • An upward trend emerged starting from December 31, 2022, where the ratio jumped to 0.94.
  • The current ratio continued its increase, albeit slightly, ending at 0.99 on September 30, 2023.

The overall growth rate, measured by comparing the current ratio from March 27, 2021 (1.14), to the most recent observation on September 30, 2023 (0.99), indicates a decrease of around 13%.

Analyzing Apple Inc.’s Share Price Fluctuations: July 2023 – January 2024

The trend and growth rate of AAPL share prices from July 2023 to January 2024 is characterized by variability and some degree of volatility.

  • There was a slight decrease in the share price from $191.42 on July 7, 2023, to $189.43 on July 14, 2023.
  • Then it began rising to a high of $194.41 by July 28, 2023.
  • Following this peak, there was a significant downward trend during August, hitting a low of $176.57 on August 18, 2023.
  • In September, there was some recovery, with a peak of $185.41 on September 1, 2023. However, the rest of the month saw declines, reaching as low as $172.16.
  • The price then fluctuated throughout October, reaching a high of $179.18 on October 13, 2023, but eventually descending again to $170.42 by October 27, 2023.
  • There was a strong resurgence in November, with a peak of $190.83 on November 24, 2023.
  • December witnessed the highest point during this period, with a share price of $195.85 on December 15, 2023.
  • But, by the start of the new year, on January 2, 2024, the price had declined to $185.64.

To summarize, AAPL’s stock exhibited initial stability, followed by a decline, a period of volatility, and then a robust increase towards December 2023. This was, however, followed by another price reduction at the start of the subsequent year. Despite these fluctuations, the overall growth rate in this period is not consistent, instead showing signs of volatility.

The trend could be characterized as slightly upward through mid-December and then a decrease towards the end of December and early January. Here is a chart of AAPL’s price over the past 180 days.

Analyzing Apple Inc.’s Performance: Quality, Stability, and Sentiment Dimensions

Based on the provided data, AAPL, a stock in the Technology – Hardware category of stocks, maintains a consistent POWR Ratings grade of C (Neutral) throughout an extended period spanning from July 2023 to January 2024. A detailed summary of the POWR grade and rank within the category for the given period is outlined below:

  • The highest rank AAPL achieved within its category was #19 in the week of July 22, 2023.
  • The lowest rank attained by AAPL within its category was #24 in the week of October 14, 2023.
  • By January 3, 2024, AAPL improved its ranking, ending at #22 within the category of the 35 total stocks.

Throughout this period, despite the shifts in ranking, AAPL maintained the POWR grade C (Neutral), indicating a balanced trajectory with room for potential improvement.

Based on the data provided, the three most noteworthy dimensions for AAPL in the POWR Ratings are Quality, Stability, and Sentiment. Here is a deeper analysis of these dimensions: 

Quality: Quality consistently achieves the highest ratings for AAPL throughout the period. In July 2023, the quality score was at 97, maintaining this impressive rating right through until October of that same year. Impressively, it continued to increase further in the following two months to reach 98 by November 2023 and retained this high score into January 2024. 

Stability: The Stability dimension also exhibits consistent ratings over this period. Though not as high as Quality, there are patterns worth noting. Starting from a score of 63 in July 2023, Stability reached its peak of 68 in August before experiencing minor fluctuations but maintaining an upward trend throughout the period. 

Sentiment: Sentiment scores for Apple show more volatility, exhibiting slight ups and downs over the observed period. Despite this wavering, the given sentiment score shows a mostly positive trajectory. Beginning with a rating of 61 in July 2023, there are noticeable upward movements by August 2023 to 75. There is then a decline to 57 by October, but an upturn again to 74 by January 2024. This indicates fluctuating sentiment towards Apple Inc. within this timeframe.

In summary, AAPL’s Quality score consistently achieved the highest among the three noteworthy dimensions across six months. Stability showed steady improvements, while Sentiment demonstrated a more fluctuating pattern. Overall, this suggests a generally favorable context for AAPL, highlighting its strong Quality and increasing Stability despite the variances in Sentiment.

How does Apple Inc. (AAPL) Stack Up Against its Peers?

Other stocks in the Technology – Hardware sector that may be worth considering are AstroNova, Inc. (ALOT), Vtech Holdings Limited (VTKLY), and HP Inc. (HPQ) – they have better POWR Ratings. Click here to explore more Technology – Hardware stocks.

What To Do Next?

43 year investment veteran, Steve Reitmeister, has just released his 2024 market outlook along with trading plan and top 11 picks for the year ahead.

2024 Stock Market Outlook >

AAPL shares were trading at $184.19 per share on Wednesday morning, down $1.45 (-0.78%). Year-to-date, AAPL has declined -4.33%, versus a -1.20% rise in the benchmark S&P 500 index during the same period.

About the Author: Anushka Dutta

Anushka is an analyst whose interest in understanding the impact of broader economic changes on financial markets motivated her to pursue a career in investment research. More...

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