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A lot of normal people are looking at Apple’s earnings results and asking themselves a pretty reasonable question: “What exactly is the problem here?”After all, iPhone sales of 47.8 million units were up on a year over year basis, despite the fact that Apple only had 13 weeks to sell the iPhone this year versus 14 weeks for the year before.
Revenue and profits were new records for Apple. Apple can’t make enough iPad Minis to keep people happy. And, oh yeah, it has $137 billion in cash.
Yet, the stock fell 11% in reaction to earnings. And to listen to some people, you might think Apple was going to close up shop tomorrow.
What exactly is the problem here?
Objectively, there is no problem. Apple is still a very strong company making products people absolutely love.
But, Apple’s growth has fallen significantly. There was a time when it was producing mind boggling growth. As that growth took off, investors and analysts rejiggered their expectations for the company. And those expectations quickly got out of control.
Now expectations are being reset. The iPhone isn’t going to take over the world. The iPad isn’t going to be as lucrative as the iPhone. And it’s highly unlikely Apple has another magic money machine like the iPhone.
Remember, Apple collects $640 per iPhone sold, with ~50% of that as profit. There will never be another Apple product as profitable that sells in such volumes. So, even if Apple comes out with a TV, it won’t save Apple’s sliding revenue and profit growth.
And the truth about the iPhone as currently constructed is that it has largely run its course. Its hyper-growth era is over. It will still grow, just not in the same tremendous way.
Yes, Apple is still a very healthy company, but contrary to expectations it is mortal. It will not fly to the moon. The $1,000 price targets are going away.
And, weirdly, that’s sort of good news. The resetting of expectations gives Apple more room to breath. It won’t have to live up to impossible standards. It can start beating expectations again.
If Apple’s lucky, the stock will come back to life. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. It won’t mean Apple’s products aren’t great. It just means investors don’t like the stock.