Tim Cook’s $181 billion headache: Almost 90% of Apple’s cash held overseas

23 Jul 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

5 key trends seen in Apple Inc results.

Tim Cook-led Apple Inc, the maker of the iconic iPhones among other devices, posted a $10.7-billion net profit on revenue of $49 billion for the April-June quarter. Sure, it can do many useful, even delightful things, such as showing incoming texts and email, tracking heart rates during exercise or sending digital doodles to friends.SAN FRANCISCO: Apple shares took a bruising following a disappointing quarterly report, while an analyst report showed the US tech giant’s freshly launched smartwatch rules the growing market.Forget that iPhone unit sales were not as strong as many had expected; that the revenue forecast fell short of the average estimate, and that there was no clarity on Apple Watch sales.

The Apple Watch seized 75 per cent of the fast-growing global market for smartwatches in the second quarter of 2015, according to research firm Strategy Analytics.Technology giant Apple could see its iPhone sales under pressure in mainland China amid lingering uncertainty in the world’s second-largest economy, according to analysts. Though the company did not disclose its sales break-up for the Apple Watch, launched with much fanfare in April this year, its volumes for major revenue drivers — iPhones (47 million units), iPads (10.9 million units) and Macs (4.7 million units) — were quite impressive. Analysts, for the most part, remain as upbeat as ever on Apple Inc after investors knocked more than US$65bil (RM247.44bil) off the company’s market value in initial reaction to the company’s quarterly results on July 21.

Global smartwatch shipments in the three months to June jumped 457 per cent to a record 5.3 million units, up from 1 million a year ago, driven by the estimated 4 million Apple Watches shipped worldwide during that period. The prediction followed Apple’s announcement this week of record iPhone unit shipments and sales in its fiscal third quarter ending June 27, powered by high demand in its “greater China” market – comprising the mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan. The company’s performance during the quarter did not look particularly grim in any way — certainly not in Chief Executive Tim Cook’s statement after the announcement of the result.

Early Apple Watch owners seem generally happy with it, but Apple’s bigger worry should be those on the sidelines – even hardcore Apple fans, not to mention everybody else – who are waiting to take the plunge. In a quarterly earnings report released late July 21, Apple folded smartwatch revenues into an “other” category that included money made from sales of accessories such as Beats headphones. Of the rest, 15 kept their “buy” or equivalent rating and four a “hold”. “We believe Apple’s future prospects have never been brighter,” Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Brian White said in a research note, maintaining his “buy” rating. The excitement for Apple Music has been incredible, and we’re looking forward to releasing iOS 9, OS X El Capitan and watchOS 2 to customers in the fall.” However, the excitement of Cook and the exuberance of the company’s quarterly performance did not seem to have gone down very well with investors. Apple shares, which have risen almost 19% this year, closed down 4.3% at US$125.14 (RM476.40) on July 22, the stock’s biggest intra-day percentage fall since December 2014. “As Apple has become the ‘gold standard’ of technology, it is held to a higher standard,” said FBR analyst Daniel Ives, who described the iPhone maker’s quarter as “good but not great.” “With a new iPhone around the corner, the seasonally stronger quarters ahead and a possible Apple TV update, coupled with valuation, we would be buyers on weakness,” said analysts at Robert W.

Cook, however, offered some insight based on Apple’s data for its fiscal quarter ended June 27: “The Apple Watch sell-through was higher than the comparable launch periods of the original iPhone or the original iPad. Analysts, however, remain convinced that mainland China’s stock market crisis and weakness in overall smartphone demand signal a continued slowdown that could impact domestic iPhone sales in the near term.

Apple shares, however, sagged on Wednesday under the weight of heavy expectations by investors accustomed to the California-based company delivering dizzying earnings results. Apple Watch was the star performer, capturing a dominant 75 percent marketshare in first place.” The report adds, “We estimate Samsung shipped 0.4 million smartwatches and captured 8 percent marketshare worldwide for second position. Apple’s latest quarterly profit leapt as consumers around the world snapped up big-screen iPhones but its shares slipped as analysts had expected even more stunning sales along with clear signs Apple Watch would be a big money maker. It nagged the physically active New Yorker to stand up during a six-hour flight. “Apple is famous for telling us what we need before we need them,” Clayton said. “I thought this would be the case with the watch. The tech giant reported that its profit jumped 38% to US$10.7bil (RM40.73bil) on surging iPhone sales, compared to US$7.7bil (RM29.31bil) in the same period last year. “We had an amazing quarter,” Cook insisted, noting that iPhone revenue in the quarter that ended on June 27 was up 59% from the same period a year earlier.

Growth in emerging markets such as China and India, where many believe Apple is likely to take market share from Android, is key a reason for optimism, analysts said. “We believe the company is positioned to exploit the rise of the middle class in these geographies over the next several years,” William Blair analyst Anile Doral, who has an “outperform” rating on Apple, wrote in a client note. In a survey of 800 Apple Watch users last week, Wristly found 66 per cent are “very satisfied/ delighted” by the device and 31 per cent as “somewhat” satisfied.

But the analysts who studied the break-up carefully, especially the ‘other product’ section, determined that the much-hyped device might have got a lukewarm response from buyers in its first quarter in the market. Cook brushed aside any worry about iPhone sales growth, expressing confidence it has “lots of legs” that it will be running with for many years to come given market factors such customer satisfaction rates and the booming overall global smartphone market. The company’s services section, under which it offers products like iTunes, App Store, AppleCare and Apple Pay, increased its share of Apple’s overall revenue.

Cantor Fitzgerald experts believe Apple Watch will be a “go-to gift” during the year-end holiday season and become the best selling new product in Apple’s history. Cook said Apple has kept its focus on first-time iPhone buyers, including those who make the switch from using Android smartphones. “We’re still seeing very, very large numbers in the countries that you would want to see those in, like China, Russia and Brazil,” he said. After all, early adopters of new technologies tend to understand that what they’re getting isn’t perfect. “I’d recommend it to people with an open mind,” said Dennis Falkenstein of Danville, California. Apple has run television commercials showing the watch in everyday life, and it has devoted tables at its retail stores for people to try one on and learn more. David Lubarsky, a Fairfield, Connecticut, photographer, loves that he can get “basic information, quick” and avoid staring at Facebook on the phone all day.

The watch version of one transit app offers bus schedules for your saved locations – even if they are far away – rather than the stops closest to you at the moment, as the phone app does. Apps will get better when Apple updates the watch’s software this fall to permit more “native” apps – those that aren’t just extensions of phone apps.

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