You don’t need to look any further than Apple’s stock price over the past several months to know that they’re on a roll. A year ago, the stock price was at about $190 a share. Today, it closed at $317.93 a share — an all-time high. In fact, they’ve hit several all-time highs this month alone. Their market cap is quickly approach $300 billion. And now the company has just announced their Q4 earnings. And once again — boom. But a boom with a couple caveats.
Just as with last quarter, Apple easily beat the earnings estimates. The company posted $20.34 billion in revenue and $4.31 billion in profit — both new records for Apple. EPS was $4.64 (Wall Street consensus had been $4.06 and Apple’s guidance had been $3.44). A year ago, Apple posted revenue of $12.21 billion with a profit of $2.53 billion ($2.77 EPS). All that said, gross margin did drop a bit, to 36.9 percent down from 41.8 percent a year ago.
The key product numbers: 3.89 million Macs during the quarter, 14.1 million iPhones, 9.05 million iPods, and 4.19 million iPads. Aside from iPods, each of those is a new record for the company. The number of iPhones sold is probably the most amazing stat there. As CEO Steve Jobs very specifically notes in the PR, Apple sold 2 million more iPhones last quarter than RIM sold BlackBerry devices. He also notes that “we still have a few surprises left for the remainder of this calendar year” — *cough* Wednesday *cough*
Given how quickly the iPad sold out of the gate (3.27 million in the first quarter it was available), the 4.19 million may seem a little low. But that also means Apple sold more iPads than Macs for the first time — and again, it only took two quarters of existence to do that.
The earnings call will be starting at 2 PM PT. We’ll take notes live below (paraphrased):
Peter Oppenheimer, CFO:
Steve Jobs, CEO:
Q: How are constraints on iPad now?
Tim Cook, COO: We’re in good shape now. We have new partners and inventory for the upcoming holiday quarter.
Q: What are the headwinds on gross margins?
PO: We did say we thought there would be some — but we did better than we thought. iPhone sales were huge.
Q: Steve, talk about the iPad opportunity. What do you think of this business a year or two years down the road?
SJ: “The iPad is clearly going to affect notebook computers.” I think the iPad proves it’s not a question of “if” but a question of “when”. Things will continue to change over the next few years. It’s surprising how much interest there is in business. “It’s being grabbed out of our hands.” From board rooms to nurses and doctors and hospitals. “The more time that passes, the more I am convinced that we have a tiger by the tail here.” This is a new model of computing that we already have people trained on thanks to the iPhone.
Q: Will this be the second biggest business (behind iPhone)?
SJ: I can’t predict. We’re already shipping more of them than Macs though.
Q: Any updates on Flash?
SJ: Flash memory? We love flash memory (laughs).
Q: How is iPad supply/demand.
TC: It has been extraordinary, I can’t predict when we’ll be able to meet demand. iPhone 4 took iPhone demand to a whole new level too.
Q: You are the tablet market right now. Can Apple sustain share growth for tablets?
SJ: I have a hard time envisioning what competitors strategies are. They can’t match us in price. Flash hasn’t presented any problem at all. Most of the video on the web is now in HTML5. We’re out to win this one. And we’re not done yet.
Q: Are smartphones a zero-sum game?
SJ: Most phones in the world are still non-smartphones. Those will convert to smartphones. There will be room for a number of companies to be successful. Right now it’s a battle for developers. And the mindshare of customers. “Right now iPhone and Android are winning that battle.”
Q: Why are margins going down?
PO: It’s a higher than expected mix of new iPods and more iPad sales — pricing is very aggressive.
Q: How is your hobby doing? Apple TV.
SJ: We don’t talk about unannounced products, but I’m happy to talk about Apple TV. We have gone to a streaming model — it’s complete streaming. Soon to be streamed from your iPhone and iPad too with AirPlay. I can report in a short amount of time we’ve already sold a quarter million. Over 250,000. It’s a great product and its 99 price point is very enticing.
Q: What about the market share play for the iPhone?
SJ: Our goal is to make the best product — not to be the biggest. Nokia is the biggest. They’re good at that. We don’t want to be them, we want to be like us and make the best products. In our part of the market, Android is our biggest competitor. They out-shipped us in the June quarter while we were gearing up for iPhone 4. The numbers are out yet for last quarter, but we’ll see how we did. “We don’t know how to make a great smartphone for $50.”
Q: What about the tablet competition?
SJ: The reason we wouldn’t make a 7-inch tablet isn’t because we wouldn’t want to hit a certain price point, we just think it’s too small for the software.
Q: With over $50 billion in cash now, what about returning money to shareholders?
SJ: We believe there are one or more strategic opportunities that may come along. And with the cash we have, we can do something. The money isn’t burning a hole in our pockets, we’ve been smart with it. We’d like to continue to keep our powder dry. There are one or more strategic opportunities in the future.
Q: What about other carriers for the iPhone? A lot of pressure there?
TC: The pressure is really only on the supply. Everyone we’re doing business with wants more supply. That’s the pressure I feel.
Q: Why do you think you have an advantage on the price point with the iPad?
SJ: Part of it is that we engineered so much of it ourselves. We did the A4 chip. And we learned a lot from the iPod and iPhones. Others have to buy things on the market with middlemen, who take a cut. We’re efficient. This is a product we’ve been training for for the past decade.
That’s a wrap.
Started by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne, Apple has expanded from computers to consumer electronics over the last 30 years, officially changing their name from Apple Computer, Inc. to Apple, Inc. in January 2007. Among the key offerings from Apple’s product line are: Pro line laptops (MacBook Pro) and desktops (Mac Pro), consumer line laptops (MacBook Air) and desktops (iMac), servers (Xserve), Apple TV, the Mac OS X and Mac OS X Server operating systems, the iPod, the...