Apple reported a return to sales growth in its fiscal first quarter to December, after three quarters of decline. Revenues rose three percent year-on-year to USD 78.35 billion, just ahead of its forecast. While the iPhone remained the biggest contributor, with sales up five percent to USD 54.38 billion, the services business grew the fastest, up 18 percent to USD 7.17 billion.
Apple said it set a new record for both unit sales and revenues from the iPhone. The company shipped 78.29 million of the smartphones, a five percent increase year-on-year and up 72 percent on a sequential basis.
iPad sales did less well, down 19 percent quarterly and up 41 percent year-on-year, to 13.081 million units. While Apple does not release figures for Apple Watch sales, the company said it set a new record in quarterly revenues from the smartwatch. Mac revenues were also up seven percent from a year earlier to USD 7.24 billion.
On a geographic basis, revenue growth was strongest in Japan, up 20 percent year-on-year to USD 5.77 billion. The Americas followed with revenues up nine percent to USD 31.97 billion, and sales in Europe rose three percent to USD 18.52 billion. In the greater China region, Apple's sales continued to fall, down 12 percent to USD 16.23 billion.
Apple's net earnings increased to USD 3.36 per share from USD 3.28 a year ago, another record for the company. It generated over USD 27 billion in operating cash flow and distributed almost USD 15 billion to shareholders in the quarter, in the form of dividends and share buybacks. Apple maintained its quarterly dividend at 57 cents a share.
For fiscal Q2, Apple forecast a seasonal slowdown in sales to USD 51.5-53.5 billion, but still up slightly from USD 50.6 billion a year ago.