Stocks were already having a good session when the Federal Reserve Chairman Jay Powell signaled that rate increases could be on hold, sending indexes higher still. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI) and the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC) posted significant gains.
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Technology stocks took off following positive earnings reports, with the Technology Select Sector SPDR ETF (NYSEMKT: XLK) soaring 3.1%. Consumer names jumped on the Federal Reserve news; the Consumer Discretionary Select SPDR ETF (NYSEMKT: XLY) rose 2%.
As for individual stocks, Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) surged higher in the wake of first-quarter results and Illumina (NASDAQ: ILMN) fell after missing earnings expectations.
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Apple grows earnings despite iPhone sales decline
Apple's revenue fell due to a previously announced drop in iPhone sales, but the company managed to beat profit expectations for its fiscal first quarter, and shares rose 6.8%. Net sales fell 4.5% to $84.3 billion and earnings per share grew 7.5% to $4.19, $0.01 above the analyst consensus.
Revenue from iPhone sales fell 14.9% to $52 billion, but revenue from all other segments of the company grew 19%. Net income was essentially flat from the period a year ago; the increase in EPS was due to a reduction in share count by 385 million after aggressive share repurchases.
Apple's services revenue jumped 19% to $10.9 billion, with the company saying on the conference call that it increased paid subscriptions by over 50% from a year ago to 360 million and expects to reach half a billion subscriptions in 2020. Gross margin for services was reported for the first time, and was a strong 62.8%, up 4.5 percentage points from Q1 last year and 1.7 points from last quarter.
Illumina reports a profit decline
Gene-sequencing leader Illumina reported fiscal fourth-quarter results that missed profit expectations, and shares fell 4.5%. Revenue increased 11.4% to $867 million, beating the consensus estimate of $864 million. Non-GAAP earnings per share fell 8.3% to $1.32, $0.04 below what Wall Street was expecting.
Sequencing consumables sales grew 8%, lower than historical averages in part because some Chinese customers had stocked up earlier in the year in advance of tariffs. Instrument sales jumped 22%. Gross margin in the quarter slipped 1.8 percentage points to 69.1% due to changes in product mix and lower margins in the services business.
Looking forward, Illumina forecast that 2019 revenue will increase 13%-14%, which is below analysts' expectations of 14.4% growth, and also said that seasonal weakness in the first half of the year may be greater than usual. Illumina, which will be digesting a major acquisition this year, did predict that 2019 consumable sales growth will exceed 20% -- a pleasant surprise to analysts on the conference call.
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Jim Crumly owns shares of Apple and Illumina. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Apple and Illumina. The Motley Fool has the following options: long January 2020 $150 calls on Apple and short January 2020 $155 calls on Apple. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.