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  • The Apple Financials Report: The Critics Blow it Again!

    April 20th, 2010

    I feel vindicated once again. This past weekend, I questioned the veracity of a set of U.S.-based sales figures from IDC that painted a pretty mediocre picture for Mac sales in the past quarter. Supposedly they failed to keep up with the PC market as a whole.

    Of course, when Apple released the real numbers Tuesday afternoon, you just knew IDC screwed up big time on its U.S. estimates, to be charitable. Indeed, in reporting the numbers for the March quarter, Apple reported selling 2.94 million Macs, close enough to the mystical three million figure to amaze in a quarter noted for slow sales.

    Those figures don’t reflect the recent MacBook Pro product refresh, which has been highly praised in early reviews. So how about four million Macs for the holiday quarter?

    All in all, Apple posted revenue of $13.50 billon, compared to $9.08 billion last year. Quarterly profit soared to $3.07 billion, or $3.33 per undiluted share, while last year the profits came to $1.62 billion, or $1.79 per undiluted share.

    The huge surprise in Apple’s Mac sales was the 40% increase for desktops, no doubt largely due to the continuing popularity of the iMac, which was revised last fall. Note-book sales were up 28%, even though the product lineup was rather long in the tooth.

    The iPhone also went way ahead of estimates, which were mostly below seven million units. But you already had a hint of where it would go during last week’s iPhone 4.0 rollout, where Apple reported selling over 50 million iPhones, without saying how much above that figure. It turned out that sales actually increased 131 percent to 8.75 million. During the same quarter, some 10.89 million iPods were sold, and that represents a one percent unit decline for a mature market.

    But remember that the iPhone consistently cannibalizes sales from the iPod, so it’s hard to know what the figures might have been in a world where Apple never entered the smartphone marketplace. In any case, Apple still boasts holding over 70 percent of the U.S. market for music players, and improved market shares in such countries as Australia, the U.K., Canada and Japan.

    iTunes also did well, with sales reaching $1.1 billion. Some four billion downloads have been recorded at the Apple Store, but Apple continues to report that they only do slightly better than break even on these ventures. It’s all about selling new hardware.

    If you want more raw numbers to chew over, check Apple’s press release on the subject.

    During the quarterly conference call with financial analysts, it was revealed that Apple TV sales had grown 34 percent over the previous year, but they didn’t break out unit sales. So far as they are concerned, it remains a “hobby.” But clearly there’s no incentive to kill the product line, although you have to wonder if Apple has an end game that will reveal itself over the next year or two. And, no, I am highly skeptical of the prospects of Apple building their own large screen TV, 3D or otherwise.

    After revealing last week that a half million iPads were sold during the very first week, Apple had no additional numbers to offer, but they did deny those occasional reports of production problems. The delay in the international launch by a month was due solely to the fact that U.S. demand was stronger than they expected. According to COO Tim Cook, “It has shocked us, the level of demand, at least initially.” When you consider that Cook is considered the best inventory manager on the planet, this statement is of particular significance, and it does mean that the iPad may yet be a bigger success on the long term than anyone expects.

    One other important point, and that is that, according to Cook, Apple still doesn’t know if iPad sales will cannibalize sales from Macs. During the conference call, Cook stated, “there was nothing obvious in the iPad numbers or the Mac numbers” to suggest that sort of result, but it’s still early in the game.

    Apple’s clear target with the iPad remains netbooks, with Cook concluding: “To me it’s a no brainer. iPad, netbook, it’s sort of 100 to zero. I can’t think of a single thing the netbook does well, and iPad does so many things so very well. I’m already personally addicted to mine. I couldn’t live without it.”

    In late trading, Wall Street clearly loved the figures, with Apple’s per share prices soaring over 5%.

    Now it’s a sure thing that the Apple haters will want to locate the bad news in the good, as usual. They’ll carefully examine gross profit margins, per unit sales and other numbers to seek out possible flies in the ointment. If there are none, they’ll make up something to provoke flames and vitriol.

    However, it’s clear the critics are going to have serious trouble criticizing Apple’s sales results. Even Rob Enderle, the notorious “industry analyst” who is in the pocket of the likes of Dell and Microsoft, was quoted as being extremely pleased with Apple’s results. If he can’t find a way to knock Apple, what about the rest of the PC shills?



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