Apple Gets Juiced With Biggest Quarter Ever

Image Credit: Getty Images, Wachiwit.

Sign up for smart news, insights, and analysis on the biggest financial stories of the day.

Ten years ago it took Silicon Valley’s largest company the entire year to earn $100 billion. They just hit the same mark in less than three months. How ‘bout them apples?

The fourth quarter of 2020 was the biggest ever for Apple which turned in another huge milestone: its $29 billion of net profit was the largest quarterly profit by any private-sector corporation ever. In history.

Take that, East India Company.

iDiversified My Revenue

A handful of other companies including Walmart and (soon to be) Amazon have put up $100 billion quarters. But no one drops cash to the bottom line quite like Apple – the tech giant’s profit margins are roughly five times that of both retailers.

So What’s Working? Simply put, everything. And long gone are the days of “so goes the iPhone, so goes Apple.”

  • Sales for mobile devices — marred by coronavirus and production delays of the iPhone 12 — still managed to grow by 17%.
  • Every other business line — Mac computers, services, wearables and iPad tablets — grew by double digit percentages in the quarter.

Turbo Charged: Last year sales were buttressed by huge demand for tech products. This year, analysts expect a weak U.S. dollar will bolster foreign sales (which already account for 60% of revenue) and low commodity prices should reduce manufacturing costs.

Secret Agent Dan

Apple is not finished adding revenue verticals, either.

This week, the company’s longtime hardware chief, Dan Riccio, left his position to work on an undisclosed new project that will report directly to CEO Tim Cook.

Rumors have swirled that the company is at work on VR/AR headsets to compete with Facebook and Sony. It also has hundreds of employees working on car technology, and some reports suggest Apple could release its own autonomous vehicle integrated with iOS.

The Takeaway:

A higher corporate tax rate under the Biden administration and possible antitrust risks over its treatment of developers pose potential roadblocks, but the lack of immediate risks has left even the most skeptical analysts bullish on Apple.