1Q15 earnings for Apple (AAPL)

the earnings report

Last night AAPL reported results for 1Q15 (the company’s fiscal year ends in September).  Earnings came in at $18 billion, up 37% year-on-year.  EPS came in at $3.06, a 48% yoy advance (the difference is due to the company’s aggressive stock buyback program, which has shrunk the number of outstanding shares).  These figures were far in excess of the Wall Street consensus, which was centered around eps of $2.60.

This is the first time in at least two years that AAPL has had a positive earnings surprise this large.  The $18 billion also sets a new all-time record for profits by a publicly traded company.  Lots of positive media reports, focusing on the records shattered.

As I’m writing this, the stock is up almost 8% on the news.

the highlights

I hven’t looked carefully at AAPL quarterly earnings for a whole (there’s been no need to).  I’d almost forgotten the teeth-achingly saccharine quality of the Applespeak the company uses in dealing with the investing public.

More substantive thoughts:

–the Steve Jobs era is over  Jobs left the company with powerful earnings momentum, an upscale image, design flair and the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad.   He also left behind some bad stuff–a dogmatic belief in a tablet size that was too big and a smartphone size that was too small.  After struggling for some time, the company has now thrown off both those mistakes.

–the Apple brand/ecosystem has huge power  Pentup demand for a larger smartphone drove iPhone sales in the  holiday quarter to 74.5 million units, a 46% yoy gain.  Inventories fell to unusually low levels during the period, suggesting sales were constrained by AAPL’s manufacturing capability.  (Stocks are now back at normal levels.)

In other words, even though Samsung and other Android suppliers were offering a clearly superior product, Apple users by and large continued to use their dated phones in the hope that the company would finally come to its senses.  Where else would this happen?  AAPL reported that 1Q15 was the highest period ever for Android users switching to the iPhone, suggesting that the small number of prodigal sons/daughters were returning to the fold.

earnings growth will continue strong  Only a small percentage of AAPL  smartphone owners have upgraded to the iPhone 6  …10%? – 15%? of the total.  This seems to me to imply that AAPL’s yoy earnings comparisons will continue to be healthy for at least the next several quarters, despite a lower dollar value of foreign currency sales.

odds and ends

–Computers were strong for AAPL; tablets were weak

–Sales in Greater China were very good

–The strong dollar means currency was a negative factor in the quarter, even though the raw numbers down’t seem to reflect that.  Currency will continue to be a problem.  Curiously, the yen seems to have been more of an issue than the euro (implying that AAPL hasn’t made much penetration into the EU?).  Hedging will temper currency losses for a while, but AAPL, like most companies, gives little detail on the nuts and bolts of its hedging operations.  So it’s very hard to figure currency effects.  AAPL, however, is guiding to a strong yoy earnings gain in 2Q15 despite this.



One response

  1. iphone market share in Europe is pretty bad. UK good, rest of Euro not so good. So euro weakness not that bad.

    The questions on the call were mostly on currency. Goes to your point that it hasn’t been baked into projections. When you lose 3B in currency it is a serious problem. Even more when you take into account the deferred revenue.

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