Here’s what Wall Street analysts thought of Apple’s earnings report

Key Points
  • Wall Street reacts to Apple's weaker-than-expected December-quarter iPhone unit sales.
  • The company also gave a lower-than-expected revenue forecast for the March quarter.
An employee assists a customer who purchased four Apple Inc. iPhone X smartphones during the sales launch at a store in Chicago.
Daniel Acker | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Wall Street is buzzing over what Apple's latest financial results and poor iPhone sales numbers mean for the stock.

Apple reported weaker-than-expected December-quarter iPhone unit sales on Thursday. The company also gave a lower-than-expected revenue forecast for the March quarter.

Here is what the analysts wrote in their notes to clients after the report.

1) Bank of America Merrill Lynch

"In our opinion, the unit growth was indisputably weaker (and our estimates for unit growth have come down although ASPs remain robust) but the stock has a backstop from the company's ability to opportunistically buy back stock equivalent to 20% of the market capitalization."

2) Bernstein

"The verdict is in – the iPhone X/8 cycle is disappointing. … While Apple may launch a huge buyback, bolstering earnings for the next several years, we wonder if that is already priced into the stock, and note that Apple's longer term tax rate is likely to increase from FY 18 levels."

3) Deutsche Bank

"From our perspective, the quarter was a mixed bag, with the lower sales outlook and declines in iPhone units offset by higher iPhone ASPs and the potential for significant capital returns over time. The quarter had enough of both positives and negatives to keep the bulls and bears firmly in their own camps for now. Our view of Apple as a trading stock is unchanged and we believe shares are likely to trade within their historical range."

4) Oppenheimer

"We believe investors are beginning to accept that the current iPhone cycle will not be significantly stronger than the last one. The Apple investment thesis has shifted from one of product-led growth to predictable cash generation and shareholder returns. While we grow incrementally negative on the defensibility of the iOS ecosystem, Apple's cash pile makes downside risk very limited."

5) Nomura Instinet

"We believe Apple compensated for soft F1Q X demand by restoring channel inventory to balance earlier than is typical. While this resulted in weak top-line guidance for F2Q, tax reform allowed EPS to rise."

6) Citi Research

"We are convinced that sentiment on Apple stock in the past few weeks swung too far negative and the negative media news of order cuts added fuel. We believe the negativity is overdone and the majority of our thesis remains unchanged."

7) Barclays

"Fundamentals aren't exhibiting incremental improvement but that likely takes a back seat. Dec-Q results and Mar-Q outlook don't signal any sort of iPhone super cycle, but Apple's commentary on bringing net cash to zero could bolster investor enthusiasm for a major capital return event. This potential catalyst could be a near-term boost for the stock. Eventually fundamentals will matter, and we are cautious on the iPhone franchise helping drive above-peer growth."

8) Mizuho

"Notably, the company expects to run a zero net cash balance over time, implying significant capital returns over the n-t. Taken together, we see limited upside on fundamentals with support to the downside from capital return."

9) KeyBanc Capital Markets

"Soft iPhone sell-through suggests a saturated market and the lack of gross margin upside reduces our view of potential profit growth. This reduces our view of potential upside in the stock and prompts the downgrade to Sector Weight."

The company's shares dropped 4.4 percent Friday.

— CNBC's Michael Bloom contributed to this story.