Apple’s days of incredible growth officially came to a close last night.
It is now just a cash cow, and that makes investors uncomfortable, says Felix Salmon at Reuters.
Apple’s earnings were pretty solid. It beat expectations on iPhones, iPads, revenue, and EPS.
Revenue was up 11% on a year-over-year basis. However, EPS was down 18% on a year over year basis.
Its guidance for June suggests revenue will be flat, or down, and June quarter EPS will be down another ~20% year-over-year.
Despite the fact that Apple is shifting from a company that’s growing to a company that’s shrinking, it’s still generating an amazing amount of cash. It now has $145 billion in cash, and generated $7.6 billion this quarter.
Its planning to return $100 billion to shareholders by the end of calendar 2015.
This is nice, but it means investors are rethinking Apple. Instead of a valuation based on its potential to grow, Apple is a company valued on its ability to pump out cash and line shareholder pockets, says Salmon.
This puts it in an awkward position. It has “become that animal investors like least: a slow-growing tech stock,” says Salmon.
Investors that like cash cows don’t like tech companies because the tech world is unpredictable. It’s hard to believe Apple can keep pumping out cash when the next major technological revolution could be invented by a rival any day.
Look at companies like BlackBerry, Nokia, Yahoo, and Motorola. One day, they’re industry leaders, the next, they’re gone. Apple could end up like them.
On the flip side, investors that like tech companies want strong growth. Apple will not have strong growth for at least a while, and possible ever again. When you generate $43 billion in revenue every three months, it’s hard to be much bigger.
As a result, Apple is neither here nor there, right now. It’s not a fast growing tech company, and its not seen a safe cash cow type bet.
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