If you’ve been following the drama surrounding David Einhorn and his firm, Greenlight Capital, then this is all familiar stuff. If not, we’ve got the quick recap for you. A big hedge fund that owns Appel stock wants Apple to stop being so stingy with its cash and give some back to shareholders.
In an early morning San Francisco interview-style format, Tim Cook delivered his message at the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference. All said, I thought he said some pretty interesting things. Most of it wasn’t brand new information, but some of it was. Here’s a recap of the one hour presentation.
Yesterday the Wall Street Journal ran a story about hedge fund titan David Einhorn, and his firm Greenlight Capital’s view that Apple isn’t distributing enough cash to shareholders. Einhorn says Apple is behaving with a “depression-era mentality” according to the story.
Here we go again. Another Apple quarter that demonstrates long term strength in its business, and another quarter where Wall Street is waving its hands in the air claiming that the business is broken. Apple shares are down over $50 (10%) as I write this.
Always remember value investor Benjamin Graham’s famous expression: In the short term the market acts like a voting machine. In the long term it acts like a weighing machine. Today, the voting machine dominates. But over the course of many product cycles, those daily votes amount to nothing. That’s why the market is volatile, and why I focus on long term investing.
Earlier this week, Asymco’s Horrace Dediu wrote a wonderful post about the huge differences between Microsoft and Apple in China. He makes a very strong case for how difficult of a position Microsoft is in. I encourage you to the Asymco post in detail to understand his arguments. Pretty compelling stuff.
Christmas Day is a huge day for mobile device activations, obviously. Once we finish unwrapping our gifts and scarfing down a big breakfast, we all become children and want to immediately play with our gifts. For smartphones and tablets, that means activating your device on a network, and downloading a slew of apps. Once we install these apps (like Twitter), we start telling followers about our new device. Two pieces of research hit my radar today. They’re both quite fascinating and paint a picture of Apple dominating the scene.
It seems you can’t read about Apple these days without someone saying that they’re about to make a big splash into the television market. Apple, of course, hasn't and won't pre-announced anything. But that hasn't stopped Wall Street analysts claiming that the company’s TV strategy is flawed. That's right, Apple's unannounced, unreleased, entirely presumed by someone not-Apple, strategy is flawed. But I digress.
There is no question that Apple has done some amazing things. It has become the largest company in the world, by market value, because it has redefined industries. It redefined the music business, it redefined smartphones and it redefined tablet computing. Apple did not invent these businesses. Most observers would argue that the likes of Handspring/Palm and RIM invented smartphones and stylus-oriented computing devices, including Apple's Newton and Microsoft's Tablet PC certainly pre-dated the iPad. But Apple massively and permanently redefined consumers’ expectations in these markets. While doing so, they built up an incredibly profitable hardware business.
So why is it that Apple’s stock hasn’t actually outperformed Amazon by that much?
Now that the iPad mini has been available for a while, we’re starting to see some interesting industry research headlines pop up, based on consumer surveys. Earlier this week, Cowen and Co. made headlines with one particular study that I wanted to bring up for discussion.
The equity research arm of Barclays just put out a report on Apple, and it has a handy chart summarizing all of the main concerns investors have with the stock right now.
The concerns are: 1) Long term operating margins; 2) competition for iPhone; 3) competition for iPad; 4) no “next big thing; 5) concerns over maps; 6) management changes; 7) production execution; 8) execution risks in vertical integration
Yes, Apple is still the biggest company in the world. But since hitting a high of over $700 in late September, the stock is off about 20%. Putting this in dollar terms, the value of Apple, as a company, has fallen by nearly $140 billion compared to the September highs.
During this 20% drop, Apple’s market value has fallen by 32x the total market value of RIM. Talk about a metric that puts things in perspective! Apple has also lost more value than 60% of Google’s total market capitalization, and more than Verizon’s entire market cap. Why?
Last night Apple reported Q4 fiscal 2012 earnings. In what seems like a case of deja-vu, the stock slipped by a few percentage points in after market trading. What’s knocking Apple down this time? Well, they shipped a lower number of iPads than Wall Street expected in the quarter, and guidance for the holiday quarter is lower than expected. And the sooner we learn to ignore the short-term nature of Wall Street thinking, the better.
This Fall season, Apple is busier than ever before. Back in 2010, Apple had their product launches spaced out. Spring saw the original iPad. Summer had the iPhone 4 in its traditional spot. Fall saw new iPods. This year, however, they just finished rolling out the iPhone 5 and iOS 6, and they’ve given us impressive new updates to the iPod lineup as well, mirroring many of the updates in the iPhone 5. Soon enough it looks like we’ll be seeing the iPad mini announced.
Apple’s iOS 6 is now out, and if you've read iMore's detailed iOS 6 review you've already seen people complaining about the new Maps app. Whether it be incorrect data or simply a slew of features that are missing compared to the old, Google-powered Maps app.
The financial markets are usually right. Not always, but usually. Today Apple stock is trading higher, following the iPhone 5 launch. It’s only 2 percent higher, but it tells you that most people were quite happy with what Apple announced, from a financial perspective.
Apple already revolutionized the smartphone market. They’ve revolutionized a few markets in their time on this planet. First they brought us the GUI and mouse. Then they created the iPod. Now they’ve brought multi-touch mobile computing to the masses. Let’s not debate who invented each particular item. In the end, execution is what matters. Apple is creative, smart, and executes well.
Last week we saw Amazon drop a bit of a bomb on the competition by offering a $50 per year data plan. At 250MB a month, it isn’t a very good data plan, but people will buy it. I wondered how Amazon could have negotiated such a good deal with AT&T. Perhaps they’re cutting them in on revenue from users who shop on Amazon while using a Kindle Fire HD via the LTE data network? It was purely speculation, but it intrigued me enough that I spent a bit more time thinking about this whole topic. And I quickly realized that Apple actually has a pretty well-established iTunes affiliate program.
On Thursday afternoon, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos got up on stage and introduced the world to an awesome set of updates to the Kindle Fire. Amazon doesn’t just want to have the best priced tablet (Kindle Fire is now $159), but it also wants to have the best tablet “at any price”.
To that end, the 8.9” Kindle Fire HD is hitting the market in November. It has great technical specs, and comes with a $299 price point (16 GB, Wi-Fi only) and a $499 price point, which includes 4G (LTE) and 32 GB of memory. That’s between $200 and $230 cheaper than a comparable iPad.
In a few short weeks, the iPhone 5 should be upon us. One of the interesting metrics that has been talked about of the iPhone is how all new models effectively outsell the cumulative total of prior models. For example, the iPhone 4 sold more than the total of all original iPhone, 3G, and 3G models.
So far the iPhone 4S has not yet reached this goal, but it will by the time next quarter’s results are reported. By my estimate, after 3 quarters of sales, Apple has sold about 83 million of the iPhone 4S compared to 88 million of the iPhone 4.
Here’s a chart showing how many of each iPhone model Apple has sold to date. The totals add up to Apple’s reported numbers, but the splits are based on an educated guess. My assumption is that when a new model is released, the vast majority of shipments are for the new model. Not really rocket science.
The value of a company is whatever people are willing to pay for it. And for public companies like Apple, that value equates to an open market stock price times however many shares there are in existence. Street lingo for this is market capitalization, or simply “market cap”.
Apple is the world’s most valuable company. Period. Not just among technology companies, but among all companies in the world. Apple is worth a staggering $624 billion as I write this paragraph. It’s stock price is hovering around $673 and since there are 937 million shares outstanding, multiplying those two numbers together gives us that immense market cap.
To hit a $1 trillion market cap, the stock price needs to climb to $1067, which is 59% higher than today’s price. Of course, one trillion dollars is an arbitrary number. But lots of public companies are worth over $100 billion, and the next zero to be added gets you to a trillion. So it’s psychologically important. Will Apple be the first company to achieve it?