Did Wall Street Accept Apple’s Sales Spin?

October 27th, 2016

As I write this article, Apple stock price has dropped over two percent. This comes in the wake of Tuesday’s announcement that sales were down again, as expected, in the September quarter.

Now you expect Wall Street to treat such news negatively. Companies are supposed to grow sales, but one would think the falling sales would already be built into the price, since Apple routinely delivers a conservative guidance for an upcoming quarter. Even more important, Apple promises to earn a profit for the current quarter, ending this downturn, at least for a while.

Shouldn’t the stock price go up at least a little?

All right, I am not about to suggest I am remotely capable of predicting stock market trends, and how investors might react to a company’s individual announcements. I do believe that there ought to be a little logic behind those moves, however. After all, the signs are positive for Apple.

So the iPhone 7 Plus remains backordered, and if you want a Jet Black version of any iPhone 7, also prepare to wait. Last I checked, it can take up to a month to get one, if that’s what you want, but if I were in the market, this is the last color I’d get. After all, my iPhones are always protected with a case, which covers the back and sides. So the color doesn’t matter, and I suspect that applies to most of you. Better to have an iPhone that’s reasonably well protected from damage.

And isn’t a shiny naked black iPhone 7 prone to scratching? Just asking.

If anything, tech pundits who downplayed the value of the iPhone 7 as a pretty tepid update have to do some explaining. It does appear that customers realized that having a case that’s just a little different doesn’t reveal the real advantages, which are mostly found inside. What about being waterproof, having longer battery life, a better camera — all that stuff?

Well, maybe some are still freaked out about the loss of the headphone jack, but I think Apple has done its homework here. The vast majority of users probably won’t care. They almost always use Apple’s own ear buds. But since Apple provides an adapter, I don’t think it matters so much. Where it will matter is when you listen and charge the unit at the same time (I rarely do), and there’s an adapter for that.

In fact, it does appear that all the carping and complaining about the loss of the headphone jack is largely a non-issue for most iPhone 7 owners. I also wonder, considering demand, whether any sales have been lost as a result, though I suppose it’s possible some of those people bought an iPhone 6s or iPhone 6s Plus to have the last model with the jack.

While the question — or any hard question — wasn’t asked during Apple’s quarterly conference call with financial analysts on Tuesday, Apple did forecast revenue of between $76 billion and $78 billion for the current quarter. This includes the holiday season, of course, but it also means that Apple’s = negative growth cycle is about to end with a slight increase.

With new Macs coming, and iPad sales that are beginning to flatten, there may be hope for Apple’s other product lines to show some growth as well. I’m not at all certain whether the dearth of new Macs was primarily responsible for the sales slowdown. But, after many quarters of running ahead of the curve compared to PCs, Apple didn’t do so well the past quarter. That continues a recent trend.

So are people less inclined to buy Macs because of the perceived higher cost? Prices really hasn’t changed. If anything, Macs have become a little cheaper in recent years, and I suppose it’s always possible that there will be more price reductions at Thursday’s media event. If that’s the case — and don’t forget the new models — prospects may improve.

But there’s yet another factor to Mac ownership that is so often overlooked, and it took the recent announcement about the cost of ownership from none other than IBM to bring it home. You see, IBM saves hundreds of dollars on Macs over a four-year period of ownership compared to a PC. So the lower price for the latter is only a temporary advantage. Compare that to buying a less reliable car for a lower price. Once the warranty has expired, the cost of ownership may soar beyond that of the reliable car, thus erasing the savings.

In any case, I do not expect large jumps or decreases in Apple’s stock price other than what’s occurred in recent months; that is, unless there’s the perception that sales are running higher than expected. Samsung’s problems with the Galaxy Note 7 have put things in an uncertain state. How many of their customers will go elsewhere when they want new gear, and how many of them will choose Apple.

So it was claimed that the number of Android switchers to the iPhone was higher than ever in the September quarter, but it’s not as if Apple is giving us solid numbers. But that has to spook the competition, and it’s hard to believe that the new kid on the block, Pixel, Phone by Google, will change matters very much. It’s only available from Verizon Wireless and direct from Google. That’s not going to help it earn large sales, even if demand is high. But the previous Google phones, dubbed Nexus, didn’t do so well either.

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