Apple, Inc. Earnings Get Rescheduled -- But Why?

By Markets

Apple CEO Tim Cook at an Apple product launch event. Image source: Apple.

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Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) had previously scheduled to report its fourth-quarter earnings on Thursday, Oct. 27. But a "scheduling conflict" recently prompted Apple to move its earnings to Oct. 25. The rare rescheduling of Apple's earnings release has prompted speculation that the tech giant is planning a product launch event in its place.

Is Apple planning an event on Oct. 27?

Numerous reports have pointed to an Apple event in October. Of course, an October Apple event wouldn't be out of the norm. The company has launched new products during October in four out of the last five years. The bigger question, of course, would be why Apple would want to move its earnings release earlier so the company can launch products on Oct. 27.

The most plausible explanation for Apple moving its earnings release for an Apple event is that it doesn't want declining iPhone sales overshadowing product launch news. It's no secret Apple is likely to report a year-over-year decline in total revenue, driven by declining iPhone sales, for its fourth fiscal quarter of 2016. Apple has guided for revenue to decline anywhere between 11.7% to 7.8% in Q4 year over year. Even if Apple beats its own guidance for the quarter, revenue is still likely to be down on a year-over-year basis, making headlines reporting declining sales nearly inevitable. By scheduling an Apple event after earnings instead of before, the company can replace earnings headlines with ones focused on its latest products.

The ever-active Apple rumor mill expects the company's October event to be focused on Mac products.

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Macbook. Image source: Apple.

One product likely to debut at the fall event is a significantly overhauled MacBook Pro. Expectations for a new MacBook Pro started gaining steam when the very reliable and well-connect Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, from KGI Securities, said (via 9to5Mac) Apple plans to introduce a "thinner and lighter" version of the device this year. The new MacBook Pro will take design cues from the recently overhauled MacBook, include Touch ID support, and a new OLED display touch bar, Kuo said.

Other products the Apple rumor mill has speculated could debut at an October event are new MacBook Airs and iMacs, and maybe even a 5K display.

An October Apple event would be smart

An October event with new Mac products would be a boon for the company at a very important time.

Not only are many of Apple's Mac products overdue for a refresh, but the segment has been hurting recently. Lacking new products to help sales, Apple's Mac segment revenue was down 13% in the company's most recent quarter. With Mac sales accounting for about 12% of Apple's total revenue, declining revenue in this segment can drag Apple's overall business.

Further, by refreshing its Mac products ahead of the holidays, Apple would help set itself up for a big holiday quarter. Combining new Macs with a recent launch of the iPhone 7 and Apple Watch Series 2, Apple would have a shot at returning to year-over-year revenue growth in Q1.

Investors, of course, shouldn't fret over the exact date of an Apple launch event. Whether the event is scheduled before or after earnings won't make a difference in the company's business over the long haul. But the date change for a "scheduling conflict" does make a strong case for an Apple product launch event in October.

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Daniel Sparks owns shares of Apple. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Apple. The Motley Fool has the following options: long January 2018 $90 calls on Apple and short January 2018 $95 calls on Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.