Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL): Q1 Earnings Preview 2010

Apple Inc.(NASDAQ: AAPL) is scheduled to release its financial results for first quarter of fiscal year 2010 after the market close on Monday, January 25, 2010. Analysts, on average, expect the company to report earnings of $2.04 a share on revenue of $11.94 billion. In the year ago quarter, the company reported earnings of $1.78 per share on revenue of $10.17 billion.

Apple Inc., together with subsidiaries, designs, manufactures, and markets personal computers, mobile communication devices, and portable digital music and video players, as well as sells various related software, services, peripherals, and networking solutions.

In October, the Cupertino, California-based reported fourth quarter results that blew past expectations. Net income surged 47% to $1.67 billion or $1.82 per share, compared to $1.14 billion or $1.26 per share for the year-ago quarter. Revenue jumped 25% to $9.87 billion from $7.90 billion in the same quarter last year. Analysts, on average, expected the company to report earnings of $1.42 per share on revenue of $9.20 billion.

Gross margin for the fourth quarter improved to 36.6% from 34.7% in the prior year quarter, while operating margin for the quarter increased to 22.2% from 18.2% a year earlier.

The results were primarily boosted by better-than-expected sales of Mac computers, iPhones and iPods. Apple sold 3.05 million Macintosh computers during the quarter, up 17% from the year-ago quarter. IPhone sales grew 7% to 7.4 million units while iPod sales fell 8% to 10.2 millions. Analysts expected Apple to sell 2.8 million Macs, 7 million iPhones and 10 million iPods.

For the fiscal first quarter, the company forecast revenue in the range of $11.3 billion to $11.6 billion and earnings in the range of $1.70 to $1.78 per share. Apple, known for providing conservative forecasts, missed analysts' estimates with its earnings and sales forecasts in the previous twelve quarters, then went on to beat those predictions.

Needless to say, the upcoming earnings announcement is expected to highlight another quarter of spectacular growth for quarter for iPhone. In a recent research note to clients, Broadpoint AmTech analyst Brian Marshall said that Apple likely sold 11.3 million phones in the last quarter of 2009. Mac sales are also expected to remain strong. Marshall estimated total Mac sales at 3.3 million units for 2009's final quarter.

The company was quite active on acquisition front in its fiscal first quarter. In December, Apple acquired online music company Lala Media Inc. for undisclosed terms, in order to expand iTunes beyond being a predominantly download service for songs. Early in January, it acquired mobile advertising company Quattro Wireless in order to gain a foothold in the increasingly competitive mobile advertising market and offer direct competition to other players in the mobile ad market including Google, Yahoo and Microsoft.

Apple is widely rumored to be on the brink of an announcement of its highly anticipated multimedia tablet computer. According to media reports, the company will unveil the device later this month, but does not plan to ship the product until March.

Among other developments, the October-December quarter was also marked by escalation of the dispute between Apple and Finland-based Nokia (NYSE: NOK). In December, the iPhone maker filed a counter-suit in claiming infringement of thirteen Apple patents.

The company's stock currently trades at a forward P/E (fye 26-Sep-11) of 21.99 and PEG ratio (5 yr expected) of 1.46. In terms of stock performance, Apple shares have gained 137 percent over the past year. Shares of the company rose 98 cents or 0.47% to $208.70 in afternoon trade on Wednesday.

Disclosure: Long Apple.
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