Apple Agitates Investors

By Stephanie Blanchard, Digital Editor — January 28, 2014

Can an Apple a day keep angry investors at bay? How about, 566K devices per day, because that is how many iPhones were sold daily during fiscal Q1, totaling 51 million. Compared to 47.8 million from the year-ago quarter, that’s an increase of 7%, and Apple’s new quarterly record.

And yet stock dropped 8% following the company’s earning call on Monday. What does an innovative tech company have to do these days? Follow the market, apparently, and keep up with projections. (Analysts predicted iPhone sales would reach 55 million.)

“In North America, we did not do as well, and this weighed our results,” said Tim Cook, CEO, when asked why Apple is not gaining more ground in smartphones, in line, or faster, than the market is growing.

Here’s another record, even if the squawkers are unhappy: Apple sold more than 26 million iPads during the same quarter, compared to 22.9 million in the year-ago quarter for a 14% increase and an all-time quarterly sales record.

On top of that, it was actually one of the best quarters ever for Mac, with 4.8 million sold, compared to 4.1 million (19% increase). By the way, Happy Birthday, Mac. The personal computer was launched 30 years ago this week.

Dollar Signs
“Some people just look at the numbers on a piece of paper,” said Cook. “But the way I’d look at our business is from a sell-through point of view less iPod, because I think all of us have known for some time that iPod is a declining business.”

Indeed, if anyone looked, they would see that revenue for the quarter was $57.6 billion, up $3.1 billion (6%) from the year-ago quarter. Peter Oppenheimer, CFO, stressed that this was despite the decline in iPod sales, and revenue deferral rates from iOS devices and Macs, along with foreign exchange factors.

“No technology company has ever generated that much revenue in a single quarter,” Oppenheimer said, simply.

While Wall Street may not be offering applause, Apple is certainly pleased with its sales, and its positions overseas, accounting for 69% of the smartphone market in Japan, for example. The Cupertino-based company is also making significant progress in Latin America and other emerging markets while a new partnership with China Mobile is off to an “incredible start.”

Enterprise Expansion
Cook noted that the enterprise area has “huge potential” and existing share is already “unbelievable.”

“The iPhone is used in 97% of the Fortune 500, and 91% of the Global 500, and iPad is used in 98% of the Fortune 500 and 93% of the Global 500,” he said. Companies currently using iOS for wide-scale deployments include Accenture, Cisco, and American Airlines, British Airways, Deloitte and GE, among others.

And, the tech giant is still sitting on a stockpile of cash: $34 billion domestically, and $124 billion offshore. Apple will continue to invest heavily in R&D, in current categories and products/services yet to be named. Could Cook provide just a hint of what innovation is to come? Of course not.

“It’s never been stronger,” he said. “I’m very confident with the work that’s going on, and I think our customers are going to love what we’re going to do.”

Seriously, not one hint?

“We have zero issue coming up with things we want to do that we think we can disrupt in a major way,” Cook said. “The challenge is always to focus to the very few that deserve all of our energy. And we’ve always done that, and we’re continuing to do that."

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