News Column

Decoding Apple's CEO

April 24, 2013

Decoding Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) CEO Tim Cook's every word, investors haven't tried to parse financial clues like this since Alan Greenspan was chairman of the Federal Reserve.

Wall Street and average investors want hints of upcoming revolutionary products. Instead, Apple, with its hits streak in question, reported financial results on Tuesday that slightly beat Wall Street consensus estimates for both top- and bottom-line results.

Apple did answer a burning question: Would the company's decade-long year-over-year profit growth streak end? It did.

"We know they didn't beat everyone's expectations," Cook said on a conference call. "Our teams are hard at work on some amazing new hardware, software and services that we can't wait to introduce in the fall and throughout 2014. We continue to be very confident in our future product plans."

Translation: Wait and see.

Worse news for investors, Apple's gross margins guidance for its current quarter came in below expectations. Such forecasts suggest increased competition on pricing. Despite the report, Apple shares were flat in after-hours trading.

Apple is under pressure because the profitability of its iPhones and iPads remains endangered. Samsung is nipping at its heels with the imminent release of its Galaxy S 4, and competitor HTC's One phone recently launched. Apple's iPhones make up roughly 65% to 70% of its profits. That's driving intense scrutiny for what's next in its product pipeline. Still, Apple sold 37.4 million iPhones and 19.5 million iPads.

Apple reported net income of $9.5 billion, or $10.09 a share, on revenue of $43.6 billion. That compares with net income of $11.6 billion, or $12.30 a share, on $39.2 billion a year ago. Apple was expected to report net income of $9.5 billion on $42.3 billion in revenue for its second-quarter results, according to the survey of estimates from Thomson Reuters. Excluding options expenses, analysts predicted earnings of $10.01 a share.

Rival Google last week reported a 16% uptick in profit on a 22% rise in revenue, excluding its Motorola Mobility unit, from a year ago. Google's Android now commands nearly 70% of the worldwide smartphone market, compared with Apple's 21% share for iOS, according to researcher Gartner.

Apple also delivered a much-sought increase to its dividend, boosting it 15% to $3.05 a share.


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Source: Copyright USA TODAY 2013. Distributed by MCT Information Services


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