We've seen corporate giants rise and collapse as they've been sidelined by more innovative gurus like Apple (AAPL). Many critics of Apple are hammering the company's future ability to stay a champion, but as of now, they're dead wrong. Prior to Apple's earnings release, I wrote the article Apple: A Strong Buying Opportunity, telling investors that Apple was a strong buy and calculated one of the most accurate EPS projections of the time of $12.04. I also wrote an article analyzing the true value of Apple to AT&T (T) and Verizon (VZ), which can be read here, and debunked the subsidy cutting myth.
If you have been following my articles and Instablog, you would know that I'm not a disillusioned investor speculating that Apple will only go up. In fact, back when Apple was at $640, I was one of the few investors to provide an actual argumentative reason for why its pricing was unsustainable, which can be read in my Instablog. However, when Apple was flirting with the $550 range this week, I was also one of the only analysts to state that Apple was a strong buy.
I'm writing this article to show three very strong reasons of why Apple will continue to grow at a tremendous rate in the future. Most analysts are focusing solely on Apple's ability to generate revenue on current products, but this article will expose you to strategic business moves Apple is taking to create sustained valuation.
The iCloud is helping Apple (AAPL) emulate Google's (GOOG) genius business strategy of creating, what I call, a "revolving business strategy." It creates an interdependency between Apple products, seamlessly synchronizing the iPad, iPhone, iMac and iPod. Apple is not the first to utilize this technology, but is becoming one of the founding leaders because it understands the long-term value in this business strategy. By creating a system of products that link together, Apple is creating strong customer loyalty to purchase and use other Apple products. The interweaving of product multi-functionality will create a new wave of business strategy and marketing; rather than promoting what a single product can do, companies will begin flaunting what their family of products can do together. The best way to show the tremendous success of using this strategy is through analyzing Apple's greatest competitor: Google (GOOG).
Google was truly genius in being the leader of this specific business strategy. Its core business has always been through its search engine: generating revenue through pay-per-click advertising using AdWords. In order for Google to maximize its revenue through this, it created a family of interconnected products which revolve around its core business: Advertisement.
Google Plus has become paramount in Google's ability to generate more revenue per click of advertising because it allows them to data mine information about its users and create behavioral portfolios. It then uses these portfolios to customize its directed advertisements, allowing them to charge higher premiums per click.
Google Chrome sets Google as the default browser, directing its users back to its revenue-generating core.
Android Phones use Google's search engine by default and they also track, monitor and collect data on the phone's users. This information will soon be used in conjunction with GPS tracking to target location-based avertisements to the users. Basically, imagine walking down a street and getting a notification on your phone that there's a specific type of store around the corner which may interest you.
Google Maps tracks your location and will eventually be used as a promotion targeting strategy. From what I see, it will act similarly to Yelp (YELP) and will list nearby restaurants, gas stations and stores that you can navigate to. This, of course, will generate increased revenues for Google as it will charge fees to the advertised businesses.
I'm sure you get the overall point. Google has been and is creating a family of products and services that direct you to using other Google products and services. Apple is utilizing the same strategy with its iCloud technology by synchronizing your Apple products together and even, through the upcoming iWallet, creating digital versions of your credit cards.
In the next year, we should witness the release of Apple's iWallet, iPhone 5 and the speculated iTV and iPad mini. Apple is maintaining strong market penetration in everything it does and, by utilizing this revolving business strategy, it will foster even stronger customer loyalty and customer demand. Imagine being able to download a movie on your iMac while using your iPad as a remote to navigate through the movie on your iTV; that's just scratching the surface of Apple's future integration of its products.
iPhone + iPad
The iPhone and iPad have been, are, and will continue to be Apple's profit drivers for the foreseeable future. The iPhone brings Apple a mind-boggling 75% gross margin, while the iPad brings in an equally impressive 44% gross margin. These are phenomenal figures for any company, but what's even more impressive is how intense the product demand continues to be.
Doing a 2012/2011 quarter-to-quarter analysis, we can see that iPhone sales have increased 85% while iPad sales have increased 135%. Prior to Apple's earnings release, many analysts were "expecting" Apple's iPad sales to perform weakly, but on all accounts, it blew everyone away. The extremely strong iPhone and iPad demand is coming through strong market penetration in Japan and Asia-Pacific and strong continued growth in America.
Not only is the iPad's consumer presence strong, but its presence in education and business is picking up steam. With the lower priced iPad 2 came very strong market demand from the education industry. Apple has been attempting to penetrate this huge market, especially in attempts to consolidate its presence with e-books. The recently reduced pricing of the second generation iPad has had tremendous success and will continue having success. I found this article to be very helpful in getting a grasp of how iPad sales are doing.
The utilization of iPads in business is increasing tremendously. In the past year alone, iPad use in small businesses has quadrupled and not surprisingly so. The iPad is helping business streamline their processes and maximize their efficiency. In many accounts, the iPad pays itself off in under a year. American Airlines recently reported saving $1.2 million per year just in fuel costs by replacing a 40lb flight bag with the 1.3lb iPad. In a recent poll taken from corporations who are looking to utilize tablet technology, 84% responded that they were going with the iPad.
What truly drives consumers and businesses demand for the iPad is its seemingly limitless functionality. This allows the tablet to stay competitive and flexible in a rapidly ranging technological market.
Very strong domestic and global demand
Doing another 2012/2011 quarter-to-quarter analysis, we can see that total sales in Japan increased by 91%, in America by 41%, and in Asian-Pacific by an incredible 114%. By no accounts are we experiencing a decrease in overall demand for Apple products and we'll continue seeing strong demand throughout the year, especially with the iPhone 5 product refresh coming later this year and, in my analysis, releasing October 17, 2012.
Mobile commerce is becoming absolutely gigantic and investors have only begun realizing its importance. Mobile commerce is the ability to engage in commerce through your mobile phone, like purchasing a product, paying for a restaurant bill, etc.. Why is this something to consider when thinking of Apple? Just recently, Aite Group's research released an article predicting that the mobile commerce market will expand from $16 billion in 2010 to $200 billion in 2015, representing an 1150% increase. This isn't just big, it's huge, but how will Apple benefit from this?
The iPhone 5 will very likely be equipped with NFC technology which will allow you to pay for anything through your phone. By utilizing iCloud technology with its future iWallet release, Apple's iPhone 5 will essentially keep a digital version of your credit card stored on your iTunes to be accessed during purchases. The financial prospects of this for Apple can be absolutely mind-boggling. I predict that Apple will penetrate the market through its innovative strategy and eventually begin taking commissions on every transaction; essentially acting like your credit card company. This may be why Apple has been hoarding so much cash lately and seems like a very plausible scenario. I may be wrong and Apple may just step away from the financing strategy and simply provide its iCloud services, but I doubt this.
For the prospective future, Apple will maintain and polish its competitive advantage. Its recent iPad 3 release and upcoming iPhone 5 refresh will keep competitors scrambling to keep up. Though Apple is facing strong competition by Google, Samsung (SSNLF.PK) and now Microsoft (MSFT), it will maintain its leading position through its strong executive leadership, flexible business strategy and innovative outlook.
Disclosure: I am long AAPL.