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Wall Street Gags on Apple
Apple's Experience Tuesday was a Replay of Intel Last Week - Only Worse

Basically bellwether reports a generally brilliant quarter but the pundits don't like its projections for this quarter and think it can do better, so its stock is beaten to a pulp and the poison spreads to the rest of tech, which is exactly happened Wednesday, adding to the debris on Wall Street. Apple reported simply the best quarter in its history. It beat anybody's forecasts. Mac, iPod and iPhone sales broke any previous records even if iPod was flat.

The company earned $1.58 billion, or $1.76 a share, on revenues of $9.6 billion. Earnings were up 57% year-over-year. Revenues were up 35%. Apple's gross margin was up three-and-a-half points to 34.7%.

nternational sales, not Apple's strongest suit, accounted for 45% of the quarter's revenues.

It shipped 2.32 million Macs, up 44% in units and 47% in revenues year-over-year - way better than the industry average. Apple said the Mac was "on fire" and that it's trying to build up thin inventory.

It sold 22.1 million iPods, up a relatively weak 5% in units and 17% in revenue over last year - metrics that became a problem for it. Analysts wanted it to do between 22.4 million and 25 million of the widgets and worry about the strength of the American consumer.

iPhone was good for 2.3 million units during the quarter for a total of four million units between the time it first became available and last week when Steve Jobs walked on stage at Mac World.

The results produced cash flow from operations of over $2.7 billion, yielding a cash balance of over $18.4 billion, which CTO Paul Oppenheimer suggested could be used for acquisitions, not something Apple has any practice at.

However Apple, which is notoriously conservative in guiding, only expects revenues of about $6.8 billion this quarter and earnings of about 94 cents with higher expenses when Wall Street was counting on $1.09 on $7 billion. That's what truly did it in.

Oppenheimer refused to play economist and prognosticate about the US economy, resisting any temptation to be lured into any characterization other than normal seasonality.

He pointed out that the $6.8 billion in revenues would represent an upside of 29% year-over-year and an earnings gain of 8% coming off a strong December quarter.

In the December quarter, he said, US revenues were up 27% and traffic in its retail stores, most of which are in the states, was up 10 million. He would draw no conclusions from the data.

Since it introduced the iPod Touch in November Apple has been trying to move the thing into the movie business against a backdrop of an increasing saturated MP3 market.

Leopard, Apple's new operating system now believed to be on 19% of the Macs out there, did $170 million in the December quarter, $70 million better than its Tiger predecessor when it was in the same place. Apple figures Leopard's showing won't be as strong this quarter. Ditto iPods.

Apple's stock, up only a few of weeks ago to over 200 bucks, closed at $135.60 Thursday. Pitiful, just pitiful.

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iPhone News Desk monitors the new world of the iPhone to present software developers and IT professionals with immediate updates on related technology advances, software and business trends, new products and standards in the iPhone and i-technology space.

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