For its second fiscal quarter of 2001, Apple Computer last week announced a net profit of $43 million dollars, or $.12 per share, on sales of 751,000 Macs. That number was helped slightly by $89 million from Apple's sale of 23 million shares in ARM Holdings, plc, which more than offset an $86 million charge for a write-down of Apple's investment in EarthLink. Apple has only 8 million shares in ARM Holdings remaining, but selling shares in ARM Holdings has done wonders for bolstering Apple's finances over the last few years. Although this quarter's results don't compare well with the $233 million profit ($.64 per share) on sales of over 1 million Macs from the second quarter last year, they utterly crush analysts' estimates of $.01 per share that followed last quarter's $195 million loss. Apple's cash and short-term investment position remains strong at over $4.1 billion.
Credit for the improved results goes in part to Apple's cost-cutting measures and lower component costs, but more obviously to the popular PowerBook G4 Titanium, which sold 134,000 units in the quarter, far better than its PowerBook G3 (FireWire) predecessor in either last quarter or the year ago quarter. The PowerBook G4 Titanium also helped boost Apple's gross margins to 26.9 percent, still below last year's 28.2 percent. Sales of the Power Mac G4 (Digital Audio) were also stronger than last quarter, at 250,000 units. However, the iMac couldn't quite match the Christmas quarter with 300,000 units, and the iBook - the model most likely to be revised soon - racked up sales of only 55,000 units. Even with Apple's price cuts, the Power Mac G4 Cube managed sales of only 12,000 units. The most interesting lift to Apple's revenues came from Mac OS X, which accounted for $19 million.
Some thoughts about Apple's financial position: the company's fortunes may be relatively independent of the larger computer industry, perhaps because Macintosh purchases are more commonly individual rather than corporate decisions. Also, note that a compelling product like the PowerBook G4 Titanium can sell well even in a cool economic climate. In contrast, the Power Mac G4 Cube - despite its elegant and quiet design - simply doesn't offer sufficient advantages over either high-end iMacs or low-end Power Mac G4s to entice buyers even after Apple dropped its price. We'll probably see the Cube either benefit from a significant revision or disappear entirely by the end of 2001.