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iPhones on display at the new Apple Inc. store, due to open to the public on Thursday, in the Knightsbridge district of London, UK, on Tuesday, July 26, 2022. Apple is set to report earnings this week against the backdrop of an economic downturn and a plan to slow hiring. Photographer: Hollie Adams/Bloomberg

WITH investors on edge about an economic slowdown, Apple Inc offered just enough good news Thursday to calm fears – and bought itself some time to ready a wave of new products.

The company’s fiscal third-quarter revenue and profit narrowly topped analysts’ estimates, with iPhone sales holding up better than expected. Though chief executive officer Tim Cook decried a “cocktail of headwinds” hampering Apple’s business, he predicted that sales would begin to pick up in the coming months.

“This quarter has ultimately been a reflection of our resilience and our optimism,” Cook said on a conference call with analysts.

“As we look forward, we’re clear-eyed about the uncertainty in the macro environment. Yet we remain ever focused on the same vision that has guided us from the beginning.”

The shares gained as much as 4.2% to US$164.01 (RM729.60) in late trading after the results were released. Apple had fallen 11% this year through Thursday’s close, dragged down by a broader slide among tech stocks.

Apple warned earlier this year that the third quarter would be a rough stretch, with supply chain snags cutting sales by US$4bil (RM17.8bil) to US$8bil (RM35.6bil).

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But in typical Apple fashion, the reality was better than expected. The constraints ultimately cost the company less than US$4bil (RM17.8bil), Cook said during the call. And that number will be lower in the current period.

Revenue rose 2% to US$83bil (RM369.2bil) in the third quarter, which ended June 25, compared with an average analyst prediction of US$82.8bil (RM368.3bil). Earnings amounted to US$1.20 (RM5.34) a share, topping the US$1.16 (RM5.16) projection.

Apple’s iPhone and iPad both performed better than feared during the quarter, though other products – including Macs and wearables – fell short of projections. Services, a key growth area for Apple, narrowly missed estimates.

Still, the iPhone numbers suggest that Apple is weathering a slowdown in smartphone spending. Amazon.com Inc, which also reported quarterly results Thursday, provided its own reassurance to wary tech investors with stronger-than-expected sales and an upbeat forecast.

Cook acknowledged in an interview with Bloomberg Television’s Emily Chang that the company was dealing with “some softness” and a slower economy, but said he expects revenue to pick up again in the fourth quarter.

Apple didn’t provide specific guidance for the period, continuing an approach it adopted at the beginning of the pandemic.

Though it’s faring better than some tech peers, Apple has grown more cautious as it confronts a sputtering economy. The iPhone maker is planning to slow hiring and spending for some teams in 2023, Bloomberg reported earlier this month.

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