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Apple Reaching New Highs: What’s Driving the Stock?

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Apple hits a 52-week high

Apple (AAPL) stock touched a 52-week high of $219.18 on August 20, later closing a tad lower at $215.46. The company, which has a market cap of over $1.04 trillion, has seen its stock rally more than 13.6% since it reported impressive quarterly financial results on July 31. Year-to-date, Apple stock had gained 28.8% as of August 20, while hardware stocks Nokia (NOK), GoPro (GPRO), Fitbit (FIT), and NetApp (NTAP) had returned 17.2%, -15.3%, 5.3%, and 54.66%, respectively.

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Robust third-quarter results

Apple posted robust fiscal Q3 2018 results and beat analysts’ revenue and earnings estimates by 2% and 8%, respectively, driven by strong performance in its iPhone, Services, and Wearables segments. Sales of Apple’s biggest revenue driver, iPhones, rose 20% to $29.9 billion, driven by a 19.5% rise in their ASP (average selling price) to $724 during the quarter. The expensive iPhone X, which starts at $999, was a major contributor to the ASP increase. However, only 41.3 million iPhones were shipped, missing analysts’ expectation of 41.8 million units and representing a sequential rise of only a few hundred iPhones.

Lately, the company has been banking on its Services segment, which includes App Store, Apple Care, Apple Music, and Apple Pay. In Q3 2018, Services revenue surged 31% YoY (year-over-year) to $9.5 billion and beat analysts’ expectation of $9.2 billion, backed by paid subscribers through the App Store, a YoY increase in cloud revenue, and higher Apple Pay usage.

Apple Music is challenging streaming music giant Spotify in US markets. Meanwhile, more than 1 billion transactions were made through Apple Pay in the last reported quarter, which is more than three times the amount seen in the same quarter the year prior. Furthermore, Apple Pay’s total transactions surpassed Square’s and PayPal’s.

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