Apple proves naysayers wrong, posts record sales

Karen Haslam
25 January, 2013
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Apple has proven the naysayers wrong, announcing its best ever financial results despite the fiscal first quarter of 2013 being one week less than the 14-week fiscal first quarter of 2012.

Back in October when Apple announced its fiscal fourth quarter results the company said that it expected to report about US$52 billion in revenue (an increase of 12 percent from last year’s US$46.3 billion) and earnings of US$11.75 per share for the October to December quarter.

Instead Apple posted record quarterly revenue of US$54.5 billion which wasn’t far off the average estimates of analysts. Analysts expected sales of US$54.7 billion, according to The Street’s average.

Asymco’s Horace Dediu expected US$60b revenue; Jefferies Peter Misek predicted US$59.55 billion revenue; while another AAPL bull, Gene Munster from Piper Jaffray, expected US$53.85b revenue.

Apple also recorded quarterly net profit of US$13.1 billion, or US$13.81 per diluted share. This is particularly good news in the light of a Bloomberg report that had been warning that Apple would to report a 2 percent drop in net income, reporting just US$12.8 billion. That would have been the first drop since 2003, and the slowest growth rate since 2009.

Back in the 14 week fiscal first quarter of 2012, Apple announced that it had made US$13.1 billion in profit. So the company matched the profit, with one less week in the quarter. This is still likely to raise some questions as to whether Apple will struggle to maintain the profit margins on its products as products like the iPad mini cannibalise sales of its high-end iPads.

iPhone sales

There had also been also a lot of speculation that Apple’s iPhone sales would suffer due to lower demand. Sterne Agee analyst Shaw Wu claimed that press reports of reduced demand are misleading and claimed that iPhone 5 demand was robust. Other analysts were similarly hopeful. Asymco’s Horace Dediu believed that Apple would have sold 55.5m iPhones; Jefferies’ Peter Misek predicted 53m iPhones will have been sold; and Gene Munster from Piper Jaffray expected sales of 45m iPhones in the quarter.

Apple was expected to achieve between 43.06 million and 63 million iPhone sales for the quarter, according to analyst expectations.The highest estimation came from Traderhood’s Nicolae Mihalache and the lowest, surprisingly, from Topeka Capital’s Brian White (despite his US$1,111 price target on Apple).

Apple announced that it had sold 47.8 million iPhones in the quarter, compared to 37 million in the year-ago quarter.

It has been suggested that any decline in the value of AAPL shares in after hours trading was due to the fact that iPhone sales didn’t hit 50 million.

Apple also sold a record 22.9 million iPads during the quarter, compared to 15.4 million in the year-ago quarter. Analyst projections ranged from Breaburn Group’s Dennis Hilderbrand’s 32 million, down to 16.8 million from Argus Research’s Jim Kelleher.

4.1 million Macs were sold, compared to 5.2 million in the year-ago quarter, a sign, as expected that PC sales are slowing, but also not surprising given the fact that the new iMac didn’t ship until very late in the quarter. This was below analyst expectations which ranged from 4.45 million (predicted by Braeburn’s Navi Arthanareeswaren) to 6.5 million (predicted by Braeburn’s Nick Nansen).

Apple is provided the following guidance for its fiscal 2013 second quarter:

• Revenue between US$41 billion and US$43 billion
• Gross margin between 37.5 percent and 38.5 percent
• Operating expenses between US$3.8 billion and US$3.9 billion
• Other income/(expense) of US$350 million
• tax rate of 26%

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