By Carl Howe
I've been at another site all day in my new job at Yankee Group, so I only caught up with Apple's record earnings announcement a few hours ago. The short version: the company set a new record for both revenue at $9.6 billion and profit of nearly $1.6 billion for its first fiscal quarter. The company also provided guidance for the second quarter of $6.8 billion in revenue. Earnings reports don't get much better than that. Yet as I write these words at 11 pm EST, the stock is down more than 17 points or about 11%. I suspect a lot of Apple investors are screaming why, why, why?
Here's my take: international markets were down significantly in overnight trading. Apple stockholders waited until earnings were out before selling just in case Apple (AAPL) announced a cure for cancer, Steve Jobs being elected Pope, and an acquisition of Wal-Mart. Failing those events, when Apple only reported records, it joined the rest of the market.
Let's face it. Apple is a consumer electronics and computer company, not a miracle worker. It's growing rapidly, but it can't insert another Christmas shopping season in the spring to boost fiscal Q2 sales, nor can it ensure that recessions are banned from its stores. Steve Jobs' reality distortion field is strong, but it's not perfect.
But any way you slice it, more people are buying Apple products than ever before. Apple is offering customers more products than ever before. Ten years ago, Apple only sold computers. Now the company sells computers, music players, movies, phones, software, operating systems, and has a pipeline of even more to come. Apple operates the most efficient and most profitable retail stores on the planet. It has no debt and has tens of billions of dollars in the bank. By any rational metric, that's a good investment.
Yes, Apple's value is bound to fluctuate with its earnings announcements, with the doom and gloom in the markets, and yes, even with the loss of confidence from the credit crisis. But when I look into the future of always-connected mobile consumers and businesses, what we at Yankee Group call the anywhere economy, someone is going to be making the devices that consumers carry with them. Those devices will keep them connected with their families and businesses, keep them entertained as they travel, and will make a statement about them as people. To me, just as I saw on the subway this evening, many of those ubiquitous devices will have Apple logos, because that's what Apple does better than anyone else in the consumer electronics business. The only question is whether only a few of them or a lot of them have those logos.
Given today's reports, every indication I see says that a lot of them will have Apple logos. And that, not what Apple projects for its second quarter revenue, is why I think Apple is going to be growing and thriving for a very long time to come.
Disclosure: Author is long AAPL.