Business

Apple Q1 2013: can Apple make itself attractive to investors again?

Apple is releasing its earnings in just a couple hours, and analysts have been tightening down their estimates. Official guidance from the company was $52 billion in sales, but very soon we’ll see how close the analysts are.

The big question, however, is this: Even if Apple has a stellar quarter, will it be enough to pull it out of its stock market doldrums?

Over the past year, Apple has seen its stock lose almost $200 billion in value, from a high of $700 to below $500, before a recent rise just north of the $500 mark. This is in spite of topping 53 percent smartphone market share in the U.S., selling 7.2 million iPhones last quarter through AT&T, over 6 million iPhones with Verizon, and being the phone of choice for 50 percent of smartphone buyers.

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Oh, and by the way, on the path to meeting investors’ expectations in the last quarter of 2012, Apple sold 27 million iPhones and 14 million iPads, resulting in revenue of $36 billion and  profit of $8.2 billion — an increase of $1.6 billion from the year-ago quarter.

Not too shabby?

Apparently, shabby enough to shave tens of billions of stock market valuation. The big worry is Google’s Android: Will Apple reprise the past and fade into the sunset again, as it did (temporarily) with the PC market?

The worry is that Android will grab the lion’s share of Apple’s fast-growing and most-profitable mobile market, as it did in the third quarter of 2012, and that Apple will not make the kind of hard decisions it needs to make to retain mobile leadership.

Analysts are predicting anywhere from the low $50 billions to the mid-$60 billions, with 50 million to 55 million iPhones and 22 million to 26 million iPads. Macs and iPods are much less relevant to Apple’s bottom line. Wall Street’s consensus is $54.58 billion, 50 million iPhones, 23 million iPads, 12 million iPods, and 5 million Macs.

My guess is that to make the stock price pop, Apple will have to exceed those numbers by a considerable margin.


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