Facebook Now Has 1.62 Billion Daily Users, 2.2 Billion Daily Users Across Services

Facebook reported an uptick in users in lucrative markets and its third straight rise in quarterly sales growth on Wednesday, but the company’s controversial political ads stole the limelight when CEO Mark Zuckerberg spoke to analysts.

Shares rose about 4.5 percent after hours to $196.64. That put the shares on track to eclipse their record closing high of $194.32 in June 2018, just before a dramatic drop that summer amid escalating costs.

Over the last three years, Facebook, the world’s largest social media company, has faced rising hostility from both users and lawmakers over its handling of user data and its inability to ensure the integrity of its popular news feeds.

Zuckerberg opened his earnings conference call on Wednesday by defending the company’s policy to run ads from politicians containing false or misleading claims, saying that Facebook did not want to stifle political speech, even as rival Twitter Inc said earlier in the day that it was banning political ads around the globe.

Facebook on Monday confirmed to Reuters that some employees had criticized its policy in an internal letter. Zuckerberg estimated ads from politicians would account for under 0.5 percent of Facebook’s revenue next year.

“I expect that this is going to be a very tough year,” he said, adding that controversies over political content could lead to investigations.

Zuckerberg last week was barraged with aggressive questions by lawmakers over Facebook’s steps to combat misinformation ahead of next year’s presidential election when he appeared at a Congressional hearing.

Facebook’s competitive practices currently are under investigation separately by the US Congress, Department of Justice, FTC and 47 state attorneys general.

Zuckerberg said that much of the scrutiny would be around the company’s acquisition of Instagram in 2012, but he said that though Facebook took out a competitor, its eventual success was not guaranteed at the time.

Facebook executives, whom analysts say typically offer conservative guidance, continued to warn that the company’s revenue could be hurt by external challenges including new features on Facebook and internet browsers enabling people to block the type of online tracking that has been essential to Facebook’s algorithms for targeting ads.

But financial analysts said Facebook remains too popular among users for advertisers to ignore.

“Yes, Facebook has a lot of challenges it must deal with, but increasing its revenue and user count isn’t one of them,” Debra Aho, eMarketer principal analyst, said in an email.

Cost Control
Facebook’s total expenses in the third quarter were $10.5 billion (£8.15 billion), up 32% compared with a year ago. The third-quarter operating margin was 41 percent, compared with 42% a year ago.

Facebook forecast 2019 total expenses at approximately $46 billion to $48 billion, or an increase of 55 percent at the high end of the range compared with 2018. It estimated 2020 total expenses in the range of $54 billion to $59 billion, up 23 percent over this year’s estimate at the high end.

Concerns over privacy have fueled an acceleration in costs for privacy staff and other roles. Facebook, Twitter and Alphabet Inc’s Google also have been under pressure to police their platforms after facing criticism for failing to counter alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Third-quarter revenue rose 29 percent compared with a year ago to $17.65 billion, beating analysts’ average estimate of $17.37 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Facebook, the world’s No. 2 seller of online ads, said revenue would grow more slowly in the fourth quarter, at closer to about 20 percent to 25 percent, partly due to users choosing to limit the company’s ability to target ads to them using personal details.

Facebook reported $6.09 billion in profit, or $2.12 per share. Analysts expected $5.47 billion in profit, or $1.91 per share.

For the quarter, the company reported 2.8 billion monthly users and 2.2 billion daily users across Facebook, Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp, both slightly higher than the prior quarter.

Facebook itself had 1.62 billion daily users, versus estimates of 1.61 billion. After experiencing stagnant user growth in Europe and the United States in previous quarters, Facebook added daily users compared to the previous quarter in all four of its regions for the first time this year.

Facebook shares have gained about 43.6% this year through Wednesday’s close, thanks to above-expectations revenue in the first half of the year. The company reached a $5 billion settlement in a U.S. Federal Trade Commission probe, which started after its Cambridge Analytica data misuse scandal and threatened to cost the company several more billions.

Facebook’s existing businesses continue to grow at a fast pace. But whether it can maintain the momentum has been unclear with newer ventures including privacy-focused messaging services, its expansion into online dating or its burgeoning features for group discussions and eBay-like shopping center.

Last week, Facebook also started to test Facebook News, a new section of its mobile app dedicated to “high-quality news,” which will see some publishers paid for access to their content.

But the company came under fire from some political activists over its decision to include right-wing news website Breitbart News as one of its publishers. Facebook said Breitbart will be an unpaid publisher.

Facebook on Wednesday also said one of its board directors, Susan Desmond-Hellmann, chief executive of The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, would be stepping down and that a replacement would be named in the coming months. Zuckerberg said she is leaving for health and other commitments.

Twitter to Ban Political Ads in Apparent Swipe at Facebook

Twitter will ban political advertising on its platform next month, the company’s chief executive said on Wednesday, a move that won praise from Democrats and scorn from Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

“We’ve made the decision to stop all political advertising on Twitter globally,” said Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey in a statement. “We believe political message reach should be earned, not bought.”

Analysts do not expect the ban, which takes effect on November 22, to significantly reduce Twitter’s business. Its shares fell 1.9 percent in after-hours trading.

Social media companies, including Twitter rival Facebook face growing pressure to stop carrying ads that spread false information that could steer elections.

Facebook has pledged efforts to deal with misinformation after Russian propaganda on the platform was seen to affect the outcome of the 2016 U.S. presidential election, which was won by Trump, a Republican.

But Facebook made a decision to not fact-check ads run by politicians, drawing ire from Democratic candidates running in the 2020 presidential election such as former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Elizabeth Warren.

“We appreciate that Twitter recognizes that they should not permit disproven smears, like those from the Trump campaign, to appear in advertisements on their platform,” said Bill Russo, deputy communications director for the Biden campaign, in an emailed statement.

Biden has faced attacks from Trump, offered without evidence, about the foreign business dealings of his son Hunter.

“It would be unfortunate to suggest that the only option available to social media companies to do so is the full withdrawal of political advertising, but when faced with a choice between ad dollars and the integrity of our democracy, it is encouraging that, for once, revenue did not win out,” said Russo.

Brad Parscale, who is running Trump’s re-election campaign, described Twitter’s move as an “attempt to silence conservatives” and “a very dumb decision” for the company’s shareholders.

“Will Twitter also be stopping ads from biased liberal media outlets who will now run unchecked as they buy obvious political content meant to attack Republicans,” Parscale said in a statement. “This is yet another attempt to silence conservatives, since Twitter knows President Trump has the most sophisticated online program ever known.”

A Twitter spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Earlier this month, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg defended the company’s policy, saying it did not want to stifle political speech.

Dorsey wrote on Twitter that paying for ads forces “targeted political messages on people” with a power that “brings significant risks to politics, where it can be used to influence votes to affect the lives of millions.”

He added that it was not credible for Twitter to say it was trying to stop the spread of misleading information “buuut if someone pays us to target and force people to see their political ad…well…they can say whatever they want!”

Jasmine Enberg, a senior analyst for research company eMarketer, said Twitter’s decision “is in stark contrast to Facebook” but added that political advertising is not likely a critical part of its business.

“And, given the nature of the platform, people, publishers and politicians will still use Twitter to discuss politics organically, meaning that it won’t fully solve the problem of misinformation,” she said.

David Herrmann, president of Hermann Digital LLC, a Los Angeles-based independent media buyer who works with direct-to-consumer brands, said he disagreed with the notion of banning political ads on any network, including Twitter.

“Banning political ads doesn’t hurt presidential campaigns, it hurts local politics that are dependent on reach from paid” ads, he tweeted.

© Thomson Reuters 2019

Apple Posts Record Quarterly Revenue in India as Mac Sales Rise

Apple on Wednesday announced its financial results for the fourth fiscal quarter of the year. The Cupertino, California-based company posted a quarterly revenue of $64 billon (roughly Rs. 4,53,000 crores), with international sales accounting for 60 percent of it. The revenue was up 2 percent year-over-year and beat analyst expectations. The company also revealed that it established new Q4 earnings record in India and several other markets, including the US, Brazil, and various South-East Asian countries. With the stellar Q4 showing, Apple seems to have had an overall decent year in India.

Apple didn’t share any specifics about its India revenue, but Luca Maestri, Apple CFO, did note that the company posted an all-time record for Mac revenue in the country, as well as in the US.

“[…] we generated an all-time revenue record for Mac in the US and in India and a fourth quarter revenue record in Japan,” Maestri said. “More than half of the customers purchasing Macs during the quarter were new to Mac, and the active installed base of Macs again reached a new all-time high.”

As mentioned, this Mac revenue alongside iPhone, iPad, Wearables, and Services revenues helped the company post a Q4 record in India.

“At a country level, we established new Q4 records in many major developed and emerging markets including the US, Canada, Germany, France, Korea, Singapore, Brazil, India, Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam,” Maestri noted during the Apple earnings call. The company had also set third quarter revenue records in South-East Asian markets like the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam.

During its Q2 earnings call earlier this year, the company had noted that it has set “first-half record” in India, and as a part of the Q3 earnings call, Apple claimed to have seen double digit growth. Q1 earnings were, however, were apparently not so great for the company in India. The iPhone maker had not even mentioned India during its Q1 earnings call in January. It had blamed weak macro-conditions as well as poor iPhone upgrades for its dismal performance in all emerging markets.

Coming back to the Q4 2019 earnings, overall in terms of emerging markets Apple said that it has seen a favourable response to iPhone price corrections.

“I think that the price moves we’ve made have been smart and well received and do show a level of elasticity, but the most important thing by far is the product,” Tim Cook said while answering a question during the call.

“[…]I think it’s product first, and then prices sort of falls out of that, and we did decide to be more aggressive. And looking at the results in the early going, I think it was the right call.”

“In terms of emerging markets we picked sort of locally relevant prices, and in some cases where the dollar had become stronger, we took an exchange rate that would have reflected a while back, instead of the current exchange rate.”

Apple also revealed that it has set Q4 records for wearables in every single market, including India.

“Wearables, Home and Accessories established a new fourth quarter record with revenue of $6.5 billion, up 54% year-over-year with growth accelerating from the third quarter across all five geographic segments,” Maestri detailed.

“The performance was driven by tremendous growth across Apple Watch, AirPods, BIS products and accessories. And as Tim mentioned, we set Q4 records for our Wearables category in every single market we track around the world.”

To remind you, Apple’s fiscal year ends the last business day of September and this year, it fell on September 28.

Redmi 7 Starts Receiving MIUI 11 Stable Update in India With October Security Patch

After announcing MIUI 11 back in September, Xiaomi started the rollout of MIUI 11 Global Stable ROM update for the Redmi Y3, Redmi Note 7, Poco F1, and the Redmi K20 Pro among a host of other smartphones in India earlier this month, as part of its first batch of upgrades. Xiaomi has now commenced the rollout of MIUI 11 stable update in India for the last phone in the first batch, the Redmi 7, bringing a tonne of new features to the budget phone. The stable MIUI 11 update for the Redmi 7 also comes with the October Android security patch, but it is still based on Android 9 Pie, instead of Android 10.

We have received the update on the Redmi 7 (Review) unit here at Gadgets 360, and have also come across multiple posts on the Mi community forum where Redmi 7 users have shared information about receiving the MIUI 11 update in India. As for the update itself, it carries the build number MIUI v11.0.2.0PFLINXM and is 1.7GB in size. As mentioned above, the update is based on Android Pie, and not Android 10. The update’s rollout appears to have just begun and will soon reach out to all Redmi 7 users across the country.

As for the changelog, the stable MIUI v11.0.2.0 update brings a design overhaul for a more clutter-free aesthetics, improved touch experience, and better optimisation for full-screen display. There is a dynamic font scaling feature as well, alongside new sounds and animation effects. The MIUI 11 stable update for the Redmi 7 also brings the Mi Share file transfer tool, as well as the ability to preview documents before opening them. Xiaomi has added the new Mi Doc Viewer with the update too.

Quick replies, Game Turbo, and the ability to print photos directly from the phone without installing any third-party app have also arrived. Additionally, the stable MIUI v11.0.2.0 update for the Redmi 7 also introduces new screenshot editing tools, lock screen optimisations, new options to hide the notch, and Game Turbo enhancements. You can read in detail about MIUI 11 here. If you have a Redmi 7, you can check for the MIUI 11 update on your phone by following this path: Settings > About phone > System update.

The next batch of MIUI 11 Global Stable ROM updates will begin on November 4 and last till November 12. Devices in the second batch include the Redmi 6, Redmi 6 Pro, Redmi 6A, Redmi Note 5, Redmi Note 5 Pro, Redmi 5, Redmi 5A, Redmi Note 4, Redmi Y1, Redmi Y1 Lite, Redmi Y2, Redmi 4, Mi Mix 2, and Mi Max 2. The Redmi K20 Pro is also part of the second batch, but started receiving its update in the past few days.

Apple Beats Profit Forecasts Amid Growth in Services, Wearables

Apple on Wednesday reported stronger-than-expected profits for the past quarter, fueled by growth in digital services and wearables that helped offset slower iPhone sales.

Profit in the quarter ending in September dipped four percent from a year ago to $13.7 billion while revenues edged up two percent to $64 billion.

Apple, set to launch a new streaming television service this week, saw strong revenue gains in its services segment, which includes music, digital payments and software, and in its segment for wearables and accessories that includes its Home Pod, Apple Watch and ear buds.

Chief executive Tim Cook said Apple saw its best-ever revenue gains for the fiscal fourth quarter period.

“There were no blemishes in the quarter with Cook & Co. delivering a masterpiece quarter despite its back against the wall with the company the poster child of the US/China trade battle,” Wedbush analyst Dan Ives said in a note to investors.

Apple shares rose some two percent in after-hours trade following the release.

Cook hailed the results as “the conclusion of a remarkable fiscal 2019 for Apple,” and said the company “established new all-time highs for multiple services categories.”

iPhone sales down
Apple, which has ceased reporting unit sales of iPhones, said revenue from its smartphones fell nine percent in the quarter to $33.4 billion.

Services accounted for 20 percent of revenues, according to chief financial officer Luca Maestri, with 18 percent growth in the segment to $12.5 billion.

The wearables and accessories category produced revenue growth of 54 percent to $6.5 billion, led by gains in sales of Apple Watch and the wearable Air Pods.

Apple saw modest sales declines in its “greater China” region and in Europe and Japan, but this was offset by gains in North America and elsewhere in Asia.

“Importantly on the iPhone front, China came in well above our and Street expectations and is on the path to showing growth in the region,” Ives said.

Apple has been seeking to shift its revenue mix amid a slumping smartphone market and growing competition in the segment.

The company, which recently launched a lineup of iPhone 11 handsets, said it would allow customers to purchase the devices interest-free with its Apple Card and pay over 24 months.

“It’s early but the trends look very good” for the iPhone, Cook said, when asked about sales of the new devices. “We’re bullish.”

Apple said it ended the quarter with some $260 billion cash on hand.

The report comes two days ahead of the launch of Apple TV+, a new streaming service which could challenge Netflix and will compete against an array of others including Disney+ and HBO Max.

Ives said Apple “has a compelling list of new shows coming out as we believe it has committed $6 billion annually to the original shows and movies to beef up its streaming content ambitions.”

Apple has an opportunity to win users with its aggressive pricing of $5 monthly and some 900 million iPhone users worldwide, and is offering a year of Apple TV+ for free with new device purchases.

“We’re really proud of the content, we’d like as many people as possible to view it,” Cook told analysts.

The streaming television war is set to enter a new phase as titans Apple and Disney take direct aim at market leader Netflix, vying for consumers abandoning their cable TV bundles for on-demand services.

Star Wars, Jack Ryan, Rick and Morty, and More: November 2019 TV Guide to Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hotstar, Apple TV+, and Disney+

HBO’s new sequel take on Watchmen, from Lost co-creator Damon Lindelof, was the best of the October lot by far, as it gave superhero fans something new while also delivering as a thinking man’s socio-political drama. Elsewhere in October, the Breaking Bad spin-off movie El Camino, the double Paul Rudd series Living with Yourself, and the star-studded anthology series Modern Love were well-received as well. And lastly, the tech bro-culture satire Silicon Valley and the Rami Malek-starrer techno-thriller Mr. Robot returned to kick off the beginning of their respective ends. Both those shows will continue through November as they release weekly episodes.

Joining them in November are several new dramas from Apple TV+ — featuring the likes of Jennifer Aniston, Jason Momoa, and Joel Kinnaman — which launches at the top of the month worldwide. At Rs. 99 per month, it’s one of the most affordable offerings in India, though it doesn’t have a lot to offer content-wise. Apple isn’t the only one launching a new streaming service in November, with Disney joining the fray too, but Disney+ isn’t coming to India Asia for a couple of years. And there’s still no word on whether we can expect any of its content to show up on Hotstar, which it owns. Sorry, Star Wars fans. The Mandalorian is still part of our list, though, as fans will no doubt find what they are looking for.

For All Mankind

When: November 1
Where: Apple TV+

From the mind of Battlestar Galactica creator Ronald D. Moore comes a new sci-fi series set in an alternate history where the Soviet Union pips the United States to get a man on the Moon before Neil Armstrong made it. Counter to what happened in the real world, it prolongs the space race between the two superpowers. Joel Kinnaman, Michael Dorman, Wrenn Schmidt, and Sarah Jones are part of the cast. Early reviews paint a favourable picture.

 

Jack Ryan

When: November 1
Where: Amazon Prime Video

John Krasinski heads to Venezuela for the second season of his spy action series, where he must thwart the plans of a ruthless president who has undermined the democratic state to financially benefit himself and powerful foreign backers. Noomi Rapace (Millennium series), Michael Kelly (House of Cards), Jovan Adepo (The Leftovers), Jordi Mollà (Riddick), Cristina Umaña and Francisco Denis (Narcos) join the cast in season 2.

Jack Ryan Season 2 Trailer Unveiled by Amazon Prime Video

The Morning Show

When: November 1
Where: Apple TV+

Jennifer Aniston returns to television (for a main role) after 15 years with this drama set inside the newsroom of a morning cable show, as a newsreader who fights to hold onto her job after her news partner of 15 years (Steve Carell) is fired for sexual misconduct and an aspiring journalist (Reese Witherspoon) tries to take her place. Apple has reportedly spent $300 million on two seasons of the show, thanks to Aniston and Witherspoon’s $2-million-per-episode fee. Early reviews claim all that money has been wasted.

The Morning Show Trailer: Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon Fight to Be the Top Newsreader in Apple TV+ Series

See

When: November 1
Where: Apple TV+

Apple’s attempt to have the next Game of Thrones takes place in a post-apocalyptic world where a virus has decimated human population and robbed the survivors of the ability to see. But an upheaval is around the corner after twins are born with the power of vision. Starring Jason Momoa (Aquaman) and Alfre Woodard (Luke Cage) in the lead, it’s been written by Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight. Apple has reportedly spent $240 million on two seasons, but it’s an all-out disaster, per early reviews.

See Review: Is Apple TV+’s Game of Thrones Wannabe Worth Watching?

 

His Dark Materials

When: November 5
Where: Hotstar

Dafne Keen (Logan), Ruth Wilson (Luther), James McAvoy (Split), Lin-Manuel Miranda (Hamilton), and Clarke Peters (The Wire) head the cast of this second — and first series — attempt to adapt Sir Philip Pullman’s epic fantasy adventure novel trilogy. It seems it will shy away from Pullman’s criticism of religion, going by what writer Jack Thorne (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child) and producer Jane Tranter have said in the past. Already renewed for season 2.

 

The End of the F***ing World

When: November 5
Where: Netflix

Nearly two years after it ended on a cliff-hanger, the British young adult dark comedy-drama — based on a graphical novel of the same name — returns to continue the story of rebellious aloof teenagers James (Alex Lawther) and Alyssa (Jessica Barden). Set two years after the events of the first season, it finds Alyssa working as a waitress and possibly being pursued by a new killer called Bonnie (Naomi Ackie). Just don’t expect a third season though, says creator Charlie Covell.

 

Little Things

When: November 9
Where: Netflix

The Mumbai-based millennial couple, Dhruv Vats (Dhruv Sehgal) and Kavya Kulkarni (Mithila Palkar), must contend with a long-distance relationship in the third season of this comedy-drama, which forces them to confront their “deepest fears”. Kavya realises she’s closer to her family after being apart from Dhruv, who “comes to terms with the idea of an ever-shifting home”. Season 2 director Ruchir Arun returns to helm all eight episodes, written by Sehgal.

From Little Things to Big Deals: How India’s Dice Media Shot for Netflix and Beyond

 

Rick and Morty

When: November 11
Where: Netflix

Just over two years since the end of the previous season — the longest gap yet for the acclaimed adult animated comedy — Rick and Morty returns for season 4, which will air in two parts across the New Year’s divide. Five episodes in 2019, and another five sometime in 2020. Not much is known about the plot, but the likes of Taika Waititi, Kathleen Turner, Sam Neill, and Paul Giamatti will have guest roles. New episodes weekly.

 

The Mandalorian

When: November 12
Where: Disney+

Easily the biggest TV show of the month, Pedro Pascal stars in the lead of the first-ever live-action Star Wars series, which is set between the sixth and seventh (numbered) film and follows a lone gunfighter (Pascal) in the outer reaches of the galaxy. Gina Carano, Carl Weathers, Giancarlo Esposito, and Werner Herzog are also part of the cast. Jon Favreau is at the helm, though directing duties are being handled by Bryce Dallas Howard, Taika Waititi, Dave Filoni, Rick Famuyiwa, and Deborah Chow. New episodes weekly.

The Mandalorian Trailer Sets Up the First Live-Action Star Wars Series

The Crown

When: November 17
Where: Netflix

It’s a whole new world, nearly two years on. Well, sort of. Olivia Colman, Tobias Menzies, and Helena Bonham Carter are taking over the respective roles of Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip, and Princess Margaret for the third season, which will chronicle Harold Wilson’s time as Prime Minister from 1964 to a royal divorce in 1978. Diana Spencer (Emma Corrin) and Camilla Shand (Emerald Fennell) will be part of season 3 as well, though they will have a larger role in season 4.

 

Servant

When: November 28
Where: Apple TV+

M. Night Shyamalan is the executive producer on this psychological thriller series for Apple — its first new show after launch at the start of November — that follows a couple (Toby Kebbell and Lauren Ambrose) who replace their new-born baby with a life-like doll after its death. Harry Potter star Rupert Grint and Game of Thrones alum Nell Tiger Free are also part of the cast.

 

Beyond November

We’ll have a detailed round-up of upcoming TV shows each month, but we do know a fair bit about the future already.

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel / December 6, Amazon Prime Video
Truth Be Told / December 6, Apple TV+
The Expanse: Season 4 / December 13, Amazon Prime Video
Marvel’s Runaways: Season 3 / December 14, Amazon Prime Video
Lost in Space: Season 2 / December 24, Netflix
The Witcher / December TBA, Netflix

Apple Tunes Out Trade War as New AirPods, Services Lift Holiday Outlook

Apple on Wednesday forecast sales for the crucial holiday shopping quarter ahead of Wall Street expectations, with Chief Executive Tim Cook seeing strong sales of the wearables such as the noise-cancelling AirPods Pro and hoping for a US – China trade deal by year-end.

Cook wants to wean Apple off stagnating iPhone sales that make up over half its revenue and switch to generating income from services and wearables. Cook is implementing the strategy while also shepherding Apple through a trade dispute between two of its most important markets, the United States and China.

Apple said it expects $85.5 billion to $89.5 billion (£66.36 billion) in sales for its fiscal first quarter that ends in December, with a midpoint of $87.5 billion that is above analyst expectations of $86.9 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Apple shares rose about 2 percent to $247.50 in after-hours trading on the news.

In an interview with Reuters, Cook said he anticipated strong sales of services and wearables, as well “a very, very good start” for sales of the iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max released last month. Cook said the forecast also reflects the company’s belief that the United States and China will resolve their trade dispute.

“I don’t know every chapter of the book, but I think that will eventually happen,” Cook told Reuters. “I certainly hope it happens during the quarter, but we’ll see about that.”

The forecast comes as the Cupertino, California-based company said it generated $33.36 billion in iPhone sales for its fiscal fourth quarter ended in September, which compares with analyst expectations of $32.42 billion, according to Refinitiv data.

The results mark the fourth straight quarter of year-over-year declining iPhone sales. At the same time, hardware is getting less profitable on a gross margin basis, with Apple’s net product sales falling while the cost of sales rose slightly.

But Hal Eddins, chief economist for Apple shareholder Capital Investment Counsel, said part of Apple’s rising stock price came from interest rate cuts by U.S. officials and other indicators of slowing economic growth. “Investors feel emboldened to pay up for what they feel is ‘guaranteed growth’ with big tech,” Eddins said.

In September, Apple unveiled a lineup that included the new iPhone 11 priced at $699, $50 lower than the debut price of its predecessor, the iPhone XR.

“The starting price of $699 is a factor in bringing more people into the market and giving people just another reason to upgrade,” Cook told Reuters. “In China specifically … we picked locally relevant price points that were more similar to the price points that had great success with earlier.”

Apple’s revenue is increasingly coming from accessories such as the Apple Watch and AirPods as well as new services such as its Apple Card credit card and a streaming television service set to begin on Friday. Customers will be able to buy iPhones using the Apple Card with no interest for 24 months, Cook said on the conference call.

Apple said its services and accessories segments generated $12.51 billion and $6.52 billion in fourth-quarter revenue, respectively, topping analyst estimates of $12.15 billion and $6 billion, according to Refinitiv data.

Apple now has 450 million subscribers to its own or third-party services on its devices, and sales of wearables were up 54% versus the previous year.

“It was an incredible quarter for wearables,” Cook said. “It was a very broad range of services that set new all-time records, from our payment services to the search ad business to Apple Music, Apple Care, the App Store and cloud services – almost every kind of service we’re in.”

Apple sales for its Greater China region dropped a relatively modest 2.4% to $11.13 billion in Apple’s fiscal fourth quarter ended in September.

“The China growth being down only 2% in this environment is a win,” said John Ham of Apple investor New England Investment and Retirement Group. “The Chinese consumer isn’t punishing Apple as the American face of the trade war.”

Apple’s Cook said that iPhone sales in China ticked up toward the end of the quarter, which includes several days of sales of the new iPhone 11 models. Cook also said the company saw double-digit services revenue growth in China and wearables revenue in China grew at a higher rate than the companywide figure.

“IPhone had a remarkable comeback from the way we performed earlier in the year,” Cook said.

Apple’s holiday-quarter forecast comes amid a trade conflict between the United States and China, where Apple assembles most of its products and where many of its suppliers are located. Tariffs on imports that would include Apple accessories took effect in September.

Tariffs might hit more categories of goods including Apple’s iPhone on Dec. 15, though U.S. and Chinese negotiators were working on a deal.

Apple said its revenue for the fiscal fourth quarter was $64.04 billion, compared with analyst expectations of $62.99 billion, according to Refinitiv data. Earnings per share were $3.03 versus expectations of $2.84. On an absolute basis, earnings dropped from $14.13 billion to $13.69 billion, with the per-share results driven by a smaller base of outstanding shares due to repurchases.

© Thomson Reuters 2019

Jankovich, Miami AD in 83-90, dies at age 85

MIAMI — Sam Jankovich, the Miami Hurricanes‘ athletic director when they won their first three national championships in football, has died. He was 85.

Jankovich died Wednesday in his native Butte, Montana.

He was the Hurricanes’ athletic director from 1983 to 1990 and hired coaches Jimmy Johnson and Dennis Erickson, who both won national titles. Jankovich also revived the men’s basketball program at Miami in 1985, 14 years after the school had dropped the sport.

Jankovich was athletic director at Washington State, and was CEO for the New England Patriots in the early 1990s.

Jankovich starred at Butte High and played for the University of Montana. He later coached at Butte High and was an assistant coach at Montana State before joining former Bobcats coach Jim Sweeney at Washington State.

Tua practices, still a game-time decision vs. LSU

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa returned to practice Wednesday, 10 days after undergoing surgery to repair a high ankle sprain, but was able to participate in only a limited capacity, coach Nick Saban said.

Saban reiterated that Tagovailoa’s availability heading into the Nov. 9 game against No. 1 LSU would be a day-to-day “game-time decision.”

“Tua took some snaps today in practice and did a few things on air, was not involved in any team situations,” Saban said of the junior.

He added: “I can tell you that his mentality has been really good, in terms of how he’s working the things that he’s doing and how he’s progressing and his attitude toward trying to get back on the field and trying to progress, so that’s always a good sign.”

Tagovailoa was not present during the media viewing portion of practice.

Regardless of whether Tagovailoa plays, the Crimson Tide passing game will be without its starting tight end, Miller Forristall, who will be sidelined for approximately six weeks as he recovers from throat surgery, Saban said.

Forristall, who has caught three touchdowns this season, injured his throat during Saturday’s victory over Arkansas.

The roughly six-week timeline would coincide with the end of the regular season and could allow him to return for a possible SEC championship game or bowl game.

Alabama isn’t the only team with injury concerns heading into next weekend’s visit from LSU, which is also off this weekend.

The Tigers’ All-American defensive back, Grant Delpit, injured his ankle during last weekend’s win over Auburn and isn’t expected to practice until next week, a source told ESPN.

“I feel like Grant Delpit’s going to be ready,” LSU coach Ed Orgeron said during Wednesday’s SEC teleconference. “It’s going to be close. I don’t know how much he’s going to practice this week or next week, but I do believe he’ll be game-time ready.”

Heart issue forces Michigan QB recruit to retire

Michigan quarterback commit J.D. Johnson announced his playing career is over because of an issue with his heart.

The three-star prospect in the 2020 class tweeted that a recent evaluation by doctors discovered issues that could not be corrected by surgery.

Johnson is a pocket-passing quarterback out of Pinnacle High School in Phoenix and had appeared on the Netflix documentary “QB1: Beyond the Lights” with former teammate Spencer Rattler during their 2018 season.

The heart issue is called coarctation of the aorta, which was diagnosed when Johnson was 12. He was scheduled to receive an expansion adjustment to the original stent, but upon evaluation doctors found complications. Johnson then learned that playing a contact sport could rupture his aorta or limit the blood to his brain.

Despite the diagnosis, Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh told Johnson his scholarship will be honored and he has the option of joining the Michigan staff in some capacity.

Johnson is still planning to attend Michigan and while his role with the team isn’t defined yet, he is also planning to be a part of the football program in some capacity.

“(Harbaugh) demonstrated a high level of loyalty to a player that will never throw a TD pass for him,” Johnson said in the tweet. “I already bled Michigan BLUE, but Coach Harbaugh demonstrated an example to me, like the old ‘Starfish Parable.’

“You cannot impact everyone’s life, but sometimes making a difference in the life of just one counts for something.”