AAPL’s 2Q12: deja vu all over again

the results

After the close of New York trading yesterday, AAPL reported results for its second fiscal quarter (the company’s fiscal year ends in October).

It was–contrary to highly publicized negative analyst expectations–another litany of record performances.

Revenue was $39.2 billion, up 58.7% year on year.

Net income was $11.6 billion, up 93.3%.

EPS was $12.30, a 92% yoy gain.  Of 42 analyst estimates for the quarter, the lowest was $8.46, the highest $11.80, the median $9.81.  So, once again, AAPL blew away the consensus.

details

The company sold 35.1 million iPhones during the quarter, up 88%.  This compares with 46% growth in the overall smartphone market.

iPad sales were 11.8 million, a 151% yoy increase.

4 million Macs went out the door, up 7% yoy (in a PC market that was up 2%).

iPod unit volume was 7.7 million units, down by 15%.  The music player–which was once half the company–now represents only 3% of sales, however.

what caught my eye

AAPL continues to be capacity constrained with the new iPad.  The huge tablet sales gain this quarter appears to have been driven by demand–especially from schools–for iPad2, once AAPL dropped the price to $399.  I don’t see any reason to think that this new-found new source of tablet demand will go away any time soon.  And it could turn out to be very big.

Greater China was the geographical star.  Sales in the region, which made up 20% of the AAPL total for the quarter, tripled yoy.  iPhone sales were 5x the year-ago level.

Mac sales barely outpaced the market for the quarter.  But that’s comparing a newly refreshed product line a year ago with the same lineup today–now a little long in the tooth.  So I don’t think the weaker than usual comparison means anything.

Management gave its usual song and dance to “justify” its low-ball earnings estimate for the June quarter–$8.68/ share.  The company did make two reasonable points, though.  It expects to sell a lot of iPads, which carry lower margins than other AAPL products.  Also, 2+ million of the iPhones sold to telephone companies during the period went to replenish store inventories depleted during the holiday season.  This extra demand won’t be present in the current quarter.  Neither is that significant, in my opinion.  Together, they may just mean that yoy gains in 3Q12 won’t be quite as impressive as in 2Q12.

pre-announcement analyst panic

AAPL sold off by about 15% in the days before the earnings release.

I was struck by the number of analysts who rushed to publicly validate the price decline by offering negative assessments (now proven to have been wildly incorrect) of the company’s 2Q12 prospects.  One can only imagine what they were saying in private meetings with institutional clients.  I was also struck by the dearth of AAPL defenders–although it’s possible their comments were edited out.

For instance,:

–one analyst I read predicted Mac sales would be down, year on year, in the quarter–without mentioning either how difficult the comparison was or that Macs only make up a bit more than 10% of AAPL’s business.

–another said in a recent TV interview that he was lowering his forecast of iPhone sales from 33 million to 30 million–and intimated he thought that figure might still be too high.

I have four observations:

1.  I think the analysts in question extrapolated from what they knew about the US and Europe to the rest of the world.  When you think about it, that seems kind of loony.  Why would you think China, which is growing at 7%+ and where people are just starting to buy smartphones, would look like the US?

2.  More generally, the incident says something about the quality of research on Wall Street.  APPL isn’t the only case.  Analysts did the same sort of extrapolation with INTC last year.

3.  It says something admirable about AAPL that they don’t have one standard of information dissemination for ordinary people like you and me, and another one for Wall Street analysts.

4.  This shows how a rumor-driven market works.  Once a story starts, information sources rush to repeat and amplify the rumors, mostly because they’re worried that otherwise they’ll be thought to be out of touch.

AAPL’s stock?  It still looks cheap to me.

 

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