By midday Thursday the market seemed to have shaken off lingering concerns from Apple’s second-quarter earnings report and conference call — chief among them CFO Peter Oppenheimer’s usual conservative earnings guidance for the coming quarter ($1 per share vs. the Street’s consensus of $1.10) and lower-than-expected gross margin (32.9% vs. consensus $34%). As if there was something wrong with 33% gross margins.
But morning-after analysis by American Technology Research’s Shaw Wu found several points of concern going forward, one of which was new to us.
iPhone users, it seems, are “bandwidth hogs” to an extent that could affect Apple’s (AAPL) dealings with cellular carriers and sales to new users. As Wu put it Wednesday in a report to clients:
This won’t be as much of an issue when the faster 3G iPhone arrives, but Wu doesn’t subscribe to the conventional wisdom that the iPhone will arrive in June — at least not in large numbers. He’s thinking maybe July. The “timing of a broad 3G roll-out at AT&T is unclear to us,” he writes. “And in our experience, these types of significant network roll-outs tend to take longer than consensus thinking.”
While the iPhone is nowhere near as important as the Mac for Apple in terms of revenue — only 2% to 3% of Apple’s business, by Wu’s calculation — it looms large in the perception of investors and in the stock’s current capitalization. “If short-term numbers disappoint,” Wu writes, “we believe investors may discount their future expectations of iPhone potential and its shares could see additional pressure.”
As for the rest of Apple’s earning report, Wu summarizes it neatly in his patented bulls vs. bears analysis: