Opinion: What is Apple’s thinking in spending $3.2B on buying Beats?

beats

Apple’s apparent purchase of Beats took everyone by surprise. I must confess that my immediate reaction was to be slightly appalled. As someone whose audio tastes run more to B&O and B+W, I’ve always viewed Beats headphones as over-bassed, over-priced fashion items. But then my tastes in music admittedly differ somewhat from those of the typical Beats customer.

Even so, it’s still a little baffling at first glance. Tim Cook himself said a year ago that Apple asks two questions when considering an acquisition:

Would it help us make a great product, and would the culture fit at Apple?

My immediate answer to both would be “no,” so why would Apple spend $3.2B on a headphone manufacturer with a small sideline streaming music service … ?  Read more

Opinion: Can Apple maintain its $100 tier flash storage pricing for iPhones & iPads indefinitely?

main

There’s a certain marketing genius to Apple’s tiered pricing for flash storage on its iPhones and iPads. Since customers can’t add storage via a microSD card later, they have to decide in advance how much storage they need, and many of us are going to err on the side of safety, bumping our purchase up to a higher price-band.

Adding $100 or $200 to the price of an iDevice for maybe $5-10 worth of flash storage/controller capacity is an important source of income for Apple, and one of the reasons its margins are so high. Whatever the company makes on a 16GB device, if it can upsell you to a 32GB or 64GB (or even 128GB, in the case of the iPad), almost all of the premium charged on those beefier models is pure profit.

It’s not money Apple would give up lightly, but I do wonder whether it’s sustainable …  Read more

Strong iPhone 5s sales sees Apple gain market share in Japan, Australia, UK, France & Spain

kantar

Kantar data showed that Apple saw its smartphone market share rise in five out of nine countries surveyed “primarily due to the strong performance of the iPhone 5s.”

The iPhone gained market share in Japan, Australia, UK, France and Spain, with its strongest growth in Japan, where first quarter market share grew by 8.6 percent, from 49 percent in 2013 ro 57.6 percent in 2014. Apple’s success in the country followed a deal with Japan’s largest wireless carrier, DoCoMo.

Japan’s love affair with Apple shows no sign of fading. Even though the iPhone has now been available on Japan’s largest carrier, NTT DoCoMo, for a number of months Apple still accounts for more than 40% of sales on the network. The success of the iPhone is also filtering through to the iPad, with almost a quarter of Japanese iPhone owners also owning an iPad. With smartphone penetration in Japan lagging well behind Europe and the US, Japan will remain a key growth market for Apple …

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Analysts respond to AAPL earnings, rating the stock a strong buy

Photo: USA Today

Photo: USA Today

Early overnight reports collated by Fortune unsurprisingly show analysts pleased by the higher-than-expected iPhone numbers, with five out of five rating the stock a buy, their price targets ranging from $75 to $252 above yesterday’s closing value. Apple reported iPhone sales of 43.7B against expectations of 38B, and revenue of $45.6B against the consensus estimate of $43.5B.

  • Katy Huberty, Morgen Stanley: Price target $630

  • Gene Munster, Piper Jaffray: Price target $640

  • Brian Marshall, ISI: Price target $600

  • Brian White, Cantor Fitzgerald: Price target $777

  • Peter Misek, Jefferies: Price target $625  …

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Live blog: Apple’s Q2 2014 earnings call

As we previously shared last month, Apple is scheduled to hold its quarterly conference call to discuss its earnings report from the second quarter of its fiscal year: this includes 43 million iPhones, 16 million iPads, and 4 million Macs. As the company reported, it earned $45.6 billion in revenue during Q2. Apple has already made news as it announced the first split of its stock since February 2005.

In terms of product announcements during that timeframe, Apple was relatively quiet; it expanded iTunes Radio to Australia and added NPR support, rebranded iOS in the Car as CarPlay with compatible cars arriving later this year, introduced a cheaper 8GB iPhone 5c in several non-US markets, replaced the iPad 2 with the iPad 4 at the same price point, and announced its worldwide developer conference scheduled for June 2. Apple is currently positioned to save new products for the latter half of the year as it did in 2013.

Investors and analysts are sure to raise this point during the call, and we’ll be listening and bringing you coverage starting at 5pm EST/ 2pm PST. Read more

Apple reports $45.6 billion revenue for Q2 2014: 43.7m iPhones, 16.3m iPads, 4.1m Macs, 2.7m iPods

130521141911-tim-cook-hero-tax-code-614xaApple just announced its second quarter results for 2014 with revenue for the quarter coming in at $45.6 billion. That’s compared to the guidance it previously provided of $42 – $44 billion and estimates by analysts averaging approximately $43.5B. Apple’s $45.6 billion in revenue reported today is also up from the $43.6 billion in revenue in the year ago quarter.

Break down of device sales for Q2 2014 include 43.7m million iPhones, 16.3 million iPads, and 4.1 million Macs. Compare that to an average of 38M iPhones, 19.3M iPads, 4M Macs, and 3M iPods predicted by the analysts leading up to today. In the same quarter last year, Apple sold 37.4 million iPhones, 19.5 million iPads, just under 4 million Macs, and 5.6 million iPods.

It also reported net quarterly profit of $10.2 billion, or $11.62 per diluted share in contrast to quarterly net profit of $9.5 billion, or $10.09 per diluted share in the same quarter last year.

“We’re very proud of our quarterly results, especially our strong iPhone sales and record revenue from services,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “We’re eagerly looking forward to introducing more new products and services that only Apple could bring to market.”

“We generated $13.5 billion in cash flow from operations and returned almost $21 billion in cash to shareholders through dividends and share repurchases during the March quarter,” said Peter Oppenheimer, Apple’s CFO. “That brings cumulative payments under our capital return program to $66 billion.”

Apple is providing guidance for its next quarter of revenue between $36 billion and $38 billion.

The question of the day for Tim Cook and other Apple executives on today’s call will surely be the new product categories that Cook previously said were coming across 2014 and have yet to make an appearance in the first quarter. With Apple’s WWDC developer conference just around the corner, we’ll have to wait and see if Cook gives us any clues of what’s to come during the call today at 2:00 p.m. PST/5:00 p.m. EST. Stay tuned to our live blog for coverage. 

Apple’s full press release is below: Read more

Wall Street expecting Apple to report year-on-year revenue fall of 0.2 percent

revenue

The consensus view of 40 analysts polled by Fortune is that Apple’s year-on-year revenue for its fiscal Q2 (Q1 of the calendar year) has fallen by 0.2 percent to $43.6B. This follows earlier predictions that iPhone sales will have grown two percent, and iPad sales will have dropped by 0.7 percent.

Most of our analysts (31 out to 40) are playing it safe, offering estimates within the range of Apple’s guidance — between $42 billion and $44 billion.

Seven think Apple will beat its revenue guidance — by half to three-quarters of a billion dollars, according to Merrill Lynch’s Scott Craig and the Braeburn Group’s Patrick Smellie, respectively. Two analysts — Credit Suisse’s Kulbinder Garcha and the Braeburn Group’s Sunil Shah — think Apple’s revenue may actually have fallen year over year …

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Wall Street expecting AAPL earnings toward the high end of Apple’s guidance

Photo: Business Insider

Photo: Business Insider

With Apple due to report its quarterly earnings on Wednesday, Fortune has been doing its usual analyst temperature-taking. The 37 analysts who have responded so far expect an average of $43.5B, toward the high end of the $42-44B Apple told the market to expect.

So what are our analysts expecting this week? No surprises, that’s for sure. The average revenue estimate of the 37 analysts we’ve heard from so far — 14 amateurs and 23 pros — is 43.5 billion, just above the midpoint of Oppenheimer’s range.

The amateurs, as usual, are a bit more bullish. They’re calling for earnings of $10.53 per share on sales of $43.66 billion. The pros are not far behind: earnings of $10.18 on sales of $43.42 billion …

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Wall Street predicts just two percent year-on-year growth in iPhone sales

iphones

Fortune has its usual roundup of what the analysts are expecting Apple to report in iPhone sales next week, and the forecasts make worrying reading. The overall average is for quarterly sales of 38.2 million, which would represent year-on-year growth of just two percent.

averages

Adding to the concern, ten of the 32 analysts included in Fortune‘s poll predict a fall in sales when compared to the same quarter last year.

With the new iPhones having generated record sales in their opening weekend, and Apple having reported all-time quarterly high iPhone sales in Q1, the question is why the pessimism regarding Q2 … ?  Read more

Apple will announce 4M more iPhone sales than supply chain data suggests, says Morgan Stanley

Photo: digitaltrends.com

Photo: digitaltrends.com

Predictions of disappointing Q2 iPhone sales could be unduly pessimistic, says Morgan Stanley’s Katy Huberty. She expects Apple to announce that it shipped 42M iPhones in the first quarter of the year (Apple’s fiscal Q2), rather than the 38M suggested by supply chain analysis, reports Business Insider. This would represent year-on-year growth of more than 4.5M handsets.

Huberty says that the supply chain may work in overdrive during the holiday quarter to generate extra product, and then ease back in the March quarter, thus giving an unreliable read out on sales.

Huberty bases her estimate on a method which sounds eccentric but has an excellent track-record …  Read more

Top Apple execs each awarded 35,000 shares, worth up to $19M at today’s price

apple

An SEC filing reveals that six of Apple’s top execs were each awarded 35,000 Restricted Stock Units (shares that cannot be immediately traded), with a current value of more than $19M. Of this, $12M is awarded outright, subject only to remaining with the company until at least April 2018, with a further $7M dependent on Apple’s stock performance.

The bonuses were awarded to Senior VPs Eddy Cue, Craig Federighi, Dan Riccio, Phil Schiller, Bruce Sewell and Jeffrey Williams. It’s likely that Jony Ive will receive the same, though his stock awards do not have to be reported to the SEC …  Read more

It’s AAPL schizophrenia time: most admired company; institutions bailing; tablet growth falling

Photo: Business Insider

Photo: Business Insider

If you based your assessment of Apple’s future prospects on analyst reports and polls, you’d be upping your medication today while reading three separate sets of numbers.

Fortune reports that Apple tops the ‘most admired companies‘ list for the seventh time in a row, with Amazon and Google the runners-up. The charts are based on polling directors, executives and analysts in the USA’s largest companies.

The same source cites a Morgan Stanley investment note showing that the 30 largest institutional investors, who between them hold at least 30 percent of the shares on the market, have been selling AAPL, with their holdings at a record low …  Read more