Skip to Content

A few thoughts on Apple’s blowout quarter

What a difference a new product or three make.

With the iPhone 6, 6 Plus, and Apple Pay reflected in its numbers, Apple’s revenue grew 30% last quarter. Companies with nearly $58 billion in quarterly revenue, Apple’s year-ago figure, don’t grow at a 30% clip. But Apple’s did, putting up numbers reminiscent of its incredible run during the late Steve Jobs years. The company grew profits by an even greater percentage, 38%. Apple ended the quarter with $178 billion in cash, up nearly $23 billion. A few more thoughts:

* Apple sold 74.5 million phones. In one quarter. CEO Tim Cook said in a call with investors that the iPhone 6 was the most popular iPhone but that the iPhone 6 Plus, 5s, and 5c were selling well too. He said without elaborating that different models are popular depending on geography, implying that some locales like bigger screens more than others.

* The average selling price of an iPhone was $687, up a stunning $50 per phone. Name another product in our low-inflation times that hauls in an 8% greater price over the course of a year, especially in technology. By the way, Apple said channel inventory for iPhones is lower than it hoped, meaning it can’t make them fast enough.

* Macs are growing at a rate of 14% and a time the overall personal-computer market is shrinking. This is an annuity business for Apple. A lucrative annuity.

* iPhone costs to Apple will go down in the current quarter, the typical trend as its products mature and it gets better at manufacturing them. This means Apple’s profit margins on phones will improve. Another reason to be bullish: Cook said only a “small fraction” of existing iPhone users have upgraded to a 6 or 6 Plus. He’s bullish they will.

* Sales in China doubled during the quarter. So much for Xiaomi and other low-priced Chinese manufacturers denting Apple’s high-end business there.

* The company will ship its much-anticipated Apple Watch in April. Challenged by an analyst that this was later than Apple had earlier suggested, Cook gave one of the more amusing definitions of timing he has shared in public. The first four months of the year is “early” in Appletalk; Mid-year refers to the middle four months; Late-2015 would mean the last four months of the year. Apple still intends to deliver the Apple Watch in “early 2015,” said Cook, who didn’t need to add, “Nana-nana-foo-foo” to his comments.

* With its IBM partnership and for other reasons Apple (AAPL) is talking more and more about selling to the enterprise, otherwise known as businesses. This was heresy under Steve Jobs, and it’s becoming normal under Tim Cook, an IBM alumnus.

Not everything is perfect. iPads aren’t the roaring success they once were, though Cook said the buying cycle of the still young product is somewhere between a phone and a PC. The strong dollar is smacking Apple’s earnings, meaning results would have been better otherwise. Not perfect, but pretty darn close.