Apple earnings

Above Avalon Podcast Episode 151: Apple's Financial Tug-of-War

A different kind of Above Avalon podcast episode - dedicated to discussing why earnings are so intriguing to Neil. After going over the two ways to utilize quarterly earnings, Neil goes over some of his expectations for Apple’s 3Q19 and how Apple is currently facing a financial tug-of-war

To listen to episode 151, go here

The complete Above Avalon podcast episode archive is available here

AAPL 4Q14 Preview. Solid Quarter; Solid Outlook

Revenue: $39.8 billion (AAPL guidance: $37-40 billion range/Consensus: $39.9 billion)

  • I expect Apple’s revenue to increase 6% year-over-year.

Gross Margin: 38.0% (AAPL guidance: 37-38% range)

  • I expect Apple’s margin to decrease sequentially to 38.0% from 39.4% last quarter, primarily reflecting iPhone 6 shipments. Management’s margin guidance is approximately 0-100 basis points better than the 36.9% margin reported in 4Q13.

EPS: $1.32 (Consensus: $1.31)

  • I expect Apple to report 11% yoy EPS growth. I am including a 6 billion share count (implying around $5 billion of buyback - similar to last quarter).

Product Unit Sales and Commentary

Macs: 5.0 million (9% yoy growth)

  • Apple has reported Mac unit sales growth over the past three quarters and I expect this trend to continue with back-to-school sales and iPad fatigue (students opting for MacBooks vs. an iPad). After a difficult 2013, the Mac line-up seems to be holding its own and the idea of “Peak Mac” (Apple will never sell as many Macs as it did in 1Q12) is starting to look a bit premature. 

iPad: 12.4 million (12% yoy decline. Consensus is closer to 13 million.)

  • I expect Apple to report continued Pad unit sales declines. As I previously highlighted, the iPad is in a perilous position and I don’t see last week’s iPad refresh as having much impact on the category’s trajectory.

iPod: 1.7 million (50% yoy decline)

iPhone: 36.5 million (8% yoy growth. Consensus is closer to 37-38 million.)

  • iPhone launch quarters can be a wild animal. With many moving parts, including channel dynamics, sales vs. shipped differences, and the degree of delayed purchase behavior in August and early September, the actual sales number shouldn’t be judged too harshly, but instead be included with next quarter’s results to get a better idea of overall iPhone sales trends. Similar to last year, many ordered an iPhone 6 online hours after launch only to have the phone ship in October, so it’s clear that a large number of iPhone 6 (especially the Plus) launch sales will be pushed into 1Q15. My 36.5 million iPhone unit estimate assumes 7 million units of iPhone 6 and 1 million units of iPhone 6 Plus units, along with 29 million legacy iPhone units selling at roughly a 20% slower weekly sales pace than seen in 3Q14 (2.9 million).

I expect Apple’s earnings to come in close to consensus demonstrating continued EPS growth from stronger net income and a lower share count resulting from share buyback. In terms of 1Q15 guidance, I am expecting approximately $56-60 billion of revenue (consensus is around $63 billion) and 38.0-39.0% margins (which would equate to EPS of approximately $2.25, or a 9% increase from 2014). It is important to remember that weaker iPad mini sales, as a result of stronger iPhone or iPad Air sales, will actually help Apple’s financials as the iPad mini’s lower ASP and margins weighed on Apple results. 

I exclude foreign exchange impact from results given its non-operating nature. Apple is hedged against significant foreign exchange moves, but nevertheless there may be some impact flowing for the results. 

The primary Apple story over the next few months will be the iPhone 6 rollout and corresponding implications on margins (iPhone 6 Plus running with a higher margin than iPhone 6, with both models positioned stronger than iPhone 5).