Will Apple, Inc. Hit Its Guidance After All?

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When Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) announced its iPhone earlier this month, investors braced for a possible delayed launch for the company's important new flagship iPhone X. The ever-active Apple rumor mill was buzzing with reports that the new device was suffering production constraints -- a dilemma that could push the iPhone X's launch later than typical iPhone launches.

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Sure enough, this is exactly what happened. While Apple's new iPhone 8 and 8 Plus were available at Apple's stores on Sept. 22, in line with Apple's previous iPhone launches, the tech giant's totally redesigned iPhone X isn't slated to hit retail stores until Nov. 3 -- more than a month later than Apple's flagship iPhones usually start shipping to customers.

Later availability for Apple's iPhone X had some analysts wondering how the tech company would hit its guidance for its fourth quarter. With many customers expected to wait for the iPhone X, there was concern that Apple may not be able to deliver the year-over-year revenue growth it said it expected.

But an optimistic comment from Apple CEO Tim Cook shortly after the iPhone 8 launch suggests the tech giant may be on pace to hit its guidance after all.

Apple's CEO is "thrilled" with the iPhone 8 launch

Investors didn't know what to expect from the iPhone launch on Friday, which was overshadowed by the upcoming launch of Apple's more advanced iPhone X. Many customers will likely wait for the higher-end device. After all, it marks the first iPhone with a totally redesigned form factor since the iPhone 6 in 2014.

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But Cook was upbeat after seeing the customer response to Apple's new iPhone 8 smartphones and its new Apple Watch Series 3.

"I am thrilled," Cook told CNBC on Friday. He continued:

Here's what we're seeing right now. The watch with LTE -- the Series 3 Watch -- we are sold out in so many places around the world. And we're working really hard to meet demand. We've sold out of iPhone 8 and 8 Plus in some stores, but we've got good supply there. You can see what's going on here this morning -- I couldn't be happier.

Hitting guidance

Those are some very optimistic words to use about the iPhone launch in a CNBC interview, if the company is at risk of missing its own guidance.

Apple's guidance for its fourth quarter is strong. Management guided for revenue between $49 billion and $52 billion, representing 4.5% to 10.9% year-over-year growth. Hitting this guidance would reinforce the strength of Apple's recent return to growth after reporting a year-over-year decline in full-year fiscal 2016 revenue. Apple returned to year-over-year growth in the company's first fiscal quarter of 2017 after the launch of its iPhone 7.

Furthermore, if Apple hits its guidance, it would provide more evidence of the company's pricing power, as Apple's iPhone X isn't the only new iPhone that launched at a higher price; the iPhone 8 also started at a higher price than the iPhone 7 did last year.

Though the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus will only be available for about nine days in Apple's third quarter, the launch can still have a meaningful impact on results. The last time Apple provided investors with an update on first-weekend iPhone sales (the iPhone 6s launch two years ago), Apple said it delivered more than 13 million iPhone 6s and 6s Plus devices on the weekend of the launch alone.

There's no guarantee Cook's optimism means Apple can hit its guidance. But it certainly makes it look more likely than it seemed before he spoke about the launch.

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Daniel Sparks owns shares of Apple. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Apple. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.