Business

Apple: earnings, stock price, innovation … and what the company needs to do now

Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/fedelema/3300163053/

Apple reports second-quarter earnings tomorrow, but what results the super-successful, super-wealthy company will return are very much in doubt. Even a small bit of good news could push the stock up $50 or $75. But an earnings miss could plunge the company well below the $400 mark.

Analysts expect earnings of $10.12 a share on revenue of $42.6 billion, which sounds great for almost any company on the planet but Apple, it seems. Apple’s own guidance was a rather more modest $9.23 to $10.23 per share on earnings of $41 to $43 billion.

The question is whether those results — or better — will push Apple’s brutalized stock up … or down.

I talked to Pace University’s Darren Hayes about Apple, technology, and the stock market. Hayes is a professor at Pace’s Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems.

VentureBeat: What has driven Apple stock down over the past six months?

Hayes: iPhone 5 sales have failed to impress. There’s been a lack of innovation over the past few years to come up with the next great device, and consumers have failed to see any differentiation. Samsung has captured the market.

VentureBeat: Isn’t the stock undervalued?

Hayes: It’s possible. The short sellers have had a field day, but once the stock starts to rebound, they’ll have to cover.

With the amount of short selling that has been going on, it has been oversold. So with any kind of bump, the short sellers will have to cover, and there’s likely to be some rebound.

Short sellers are happy when the stock is going down … they may even increase their short position. But if there’s a couple of days of increase, short sellers may need to cash in on their profits and buy it back, so instead of it moving $2 it may move $12.

VentureBeat: So if Apple reports good news, the stock could jump significantly?

Hayes: It’s possible it could bump up $50 or $75.

VentureBeat: What does Apple need to do to make that happen?

Hayes: The company needs to look at business alliances. We’ve all heard about BlackBerry’s difficulties maintaining market share. Apple has failed to grasp that opportunity … failed to capture a tremendous business opportunity.

For example, even with servers — Apple had tremendous servers, but never looked to expand their market. They need to talk more about how they’re going expand their reach in corporate markets.

Google and Android have had a very effective strategy — it’s easy for developers to develop for Android, it’s open source, integrated in the auto industry, into appliances — and its adoption rate is far great than Apple’s.

In terms of of security, Apple does have better security, but businesses are going with the cheaper option.

VentureBeat: What is Apple’s biggest challenge?

Hayes: Apple has the market share in terms of tablets and they’ve been able to compete in computers, but what people are really interested in is the smartphone market. Smartphones are the most important thing people are looking at right now. For example, look at HP and Dell — it’s clear people are buying smart devices and not investing in traditional computers.

There’s about one billion smartphones in use, and that’s likely to double by 2014 according to Gartner.

The problem is that the iPhone has really failed to impress – demand has been very soft for iPhone 5.

VentureBeat: What about a cheaper iPhone?

Hayes: That’s definitely a good move, but what’s really important is the incentives they offer to carriers. Apple has already incensed a lot of carriers by offering very, very small incentives, so many carriers feel they’ve been squeezed by Apple and now would rather promote Samsung and Android.

So it’s not just about improved features and better pricing … it’s about carriers.

VentureBeat: Can Apple ever get back to $700 stock price territory?

Hayes: They need to get more hype about their products. And they need to think about the next big device that would really create some interest and buzz. Apple TV is probably not it … there’s not many details about it — they need to come out with something new.

We’ve been spoiled for years by Steve Jobs unveiling some new device year after year.

Image credit: Marco aka MenfiS/Flickr


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