Monday, October 28, 2013

Apple’s Think Different Approach To Quarterly Math

On October 28, 2013, Apple announced quarterly results for the period ended September 28, 2013. For the quarter, Apple announced revenue of $37.472 billion and earnings per share of $8.26 on 909.131 million fully diluted shares in the count. Net income was precisely 20% of reported revenue in the period. 

What surprised the market was Apple’s very conservative guidance for the December quarter. Although the quarter will most likely represent the highest revenue, net income and earning per share quarter in the company’s history, management has guided to revenue of between $55 billion and $58 billion and gross between 36.5% and 37.5%. The top end of revenue guidance suggests a 6.4% year-over-year revenue gain and the gross margin guidance range suggests a deterioration in the company’s year-over-year gross margin performance. In the year-ago quarter, Apple reported gross margin of 38.63%.

In the challenging fiscal year ended in late September, Apple reported revenue growth of 9.2% to nearly $171 billion. iPhone unit sales in the fiscal year rose 20.16% to 150.257 million units and iPad unit sales rose 21.82% to 71.033 million units. At this time, there’s little reason to expect the unit sales growth performance from the company’s two most popular product lines to fall below the FY2013 rates of growth. But with all things Apple, there’s much more to the story.

iPhone and iPad Unit Sales
The graph below illustrates the combined unit sales of the iPhone and iPad lines over the most recent sixteen fiscal quarters, including iPhone unit sales in the quarters immediately preceding the original iPad’s release in the spring of 2010.

In each quarter of the sixteen quarters there has been year-over-year unit sales growth of no less than the recent September quarter’s 6.47% rate of growth. In the December quarter one year ago, combined iPhone and iPad unit sales rose 34.63% to 70.649 million units. 

The graph below illustrates combined iPhone and iPad unit sales by fiscal year. 

In the fiscal year ended in September, combined iPhone and iPad unit sales reached 221.29 million units on a 20.90% rate of unit sales growth. Still, Apple has guided to no more than 6.4% revenue growth in the current December quarter.