Apple Rallies Most in 18 Months on Upbeat Forecast, Buyback

Apple Inc. shares jumped the most in almost a year-and-a-half after the company posted stronger-than-expected sales last quarter and predicted a return to growth in the current period, sparking optimism that a slowdown is easing.

Though revenue fell 4.3% to $90.8 billion in the March quarter, that was better than the $90.3 billion predicted by analysts. Profit also topped Wall Street projections in the period, and Apple announced the biggest stock buyback in US history.

The shares rallied as much as 8.1% to $187 Friday morning in New York. It was the biggest intraday gain since November 2022. Apple had been down 10% this year before results were released on Thursday.

The results came as a relief to investors, who have been waiting for the iPhone maker to pull out of a long slump. Apple has posted sales declines in five of the past six quarters, hurt by a sluggish smartphone market and headwinds in China. The company had warned analysts in February that revenue in the latest period would be down about 5% from a year earlier.

In the current period, Apple expects sales to climb by a percentage in the low single digits. The company predicted that both its iPad and services business would grow by a rate in the double digits, but declined to give a forecast for the iPhone — its flagship product.

Earnings amounted to $1.53 a share in the fiscal second quarter, which ended March 30. That exceeded the $1.50 analysts had estimated. Apple increased its dividend 4% to 25 cents a share, in line with expectations. And the board approved plans to buy back an additional $110 billion of the company’s stock.