Sunday, February 28, 2010

Apple: The Incredible, Irrepressible Growth Company

In reviewing Apple's retrospective filing for FY '09 I came across an impressive chart that displayed in easy to read numbers the company's revenue for the past five fiscal years. 
For the fiscal year ended in September 2009, Apple reported revenue of $42.905 billion, net earnings of $8.235 billion and resulting eps on fully diluted shares of $9.08. In contrast, for fiscal year 2005 Apple reported revenue of $13.931 billion, net earnings of $1.328 billion and resulting eps on fully diluted shares of $1.55.
In the four-year span from the end of fiscal year 2005 to the end of fiscal year 2009 Apple's reported revenue increased 308%, net earnings increased 620% and eps increased 586%. This for a company with a current p/e multiple of 19.93 times trailing 12-month earnings based on Friday's closing price of $204.62. The company also has over $40 in cash standing behind each share outstanding and no long-term debt.
It's obvious the Apple iPhone has been a strong revenue and earnings driver for the company. Introduced in 2007, the popular smartphone has sold over 40 million units worldwide. By summer the Apple iPhone and it's non-phone companion, the Apple iPod touch, will pass the 100 million units sold milestone. 
Last week, Time Cook, Apple's Chief Operating Officer, reminded those assembled at the Goldman Sachs Technology & Internet Conference the iPhone has been in the market for less than three years and the company considers the product line to be in its early stages of growth. 
In a previous post I mentioned Apple's revenue could reach $60 billion in the fiscal year ending this September. Based on the current pace of iPhone sales (doubling unit sales each quarter over the corresponding prior year period) combined with continued strong growth in Mac unit sales, the company could come close to increasing revenue by 40% this fiscal year alone. This is without revenue and earnings contributions from the soon-to-be-released Apple iPad. In the December quarter Apple's revenue increased by 32% over the prior year period. Moving the needle just a bit further to the right puts the revenue total for the fiscal year close to the $60 billion number. In the December quarter eps increased by 47% or at a pace about 50% faster than the growth in revenue.
Preliminary estimates indicate the Mac line continued its fast pace of unit sales growth through January and international sales should continue to post impressive gains versus the prior year periods for the March quarter and the fiscal year. The Apple iPhone and its accompanying rich margins should continue to deliver earnings growth for the company as a whole of 1.5 times the growth in revenue. 
Add to this pace of revenue and earnings growth the performance of the new Apple iPad with its favorable margins and Apple should deliver eps this fiscal year of over $14 per share. Last October I used a 12-month price target of $300 per share. By October of this year that target may prove conservative. I will issue a new 12-month price target for AAPL next week. 

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