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Apple Beats Earnings Records with Q1 2008 Results

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Apple has announced the company's best ever quarterly revenues and earnings, posting revenues of $9.6 billion and a net quarterly profit of $1.58 billion, which comes out to $1.76 per share. In the first quarter of 2007, in comparison, Apple posted revenues of $7.1 billion and a profit of $1 billion - putting this year's Q1 revenue 35 percent higher than last year's Q1. Some of that came from improved margins, up to 34.7 percent this quarter from 31.2 percent in the year-ago quarter. International sales helped too, making up 45 percent of quarter's revenue, up from 42 percent a year ago.

But realistically, Apple just sold boatloads more Macs, shipping 2,319,000 Macs - a massive 44 percent more than last year this time (in terms of revenue, it's even better, up 47 percent). iPod sales growth was significantly slower, no doubt because every high school and college student already has at least one, at only 5 percent higher than last year's quarter. Still, Apple sold 22,121,000 iPods, and better margins increased iPod revenue growth by 17 percent over last year's Q1. Apple also sold 2,315,000 iPhones.

All those sales produced a cash flow from operations of over $2.7 billion, bringing Apple's cash hoard to a whopping $18.4 billion. That's just slightly less than Microsoft's $18.88 billion in cash, and significantly more than Dell's $12.61 billion and HP's $11.45 billion. Obviously, I can't speak for Microsoft, Dell, and HP, all of whom have significantly different competitive situations that might require a lot of cash on hand, but it's surprising that Apple has continued to build up such a huge cash balance unless the company is anticipating the need to fund a large acquisition, weather some major downturn, or perhaps buy shares back.

All of that good news didn't translate at all to Apple's stock price, which was down more than 18 points in after-hours trading on the day the results were announced. The stock plummeted during the rest of the week, partially because of the dramatic downturn in the market as a whole, but sparked by the company's conservative guidance for Q2 2008: $6.8 billion in revenue and earnings per share of $0.94. Wall Street analysts had expected higher numbers - $6.99 billion and $1.09 per share - presumably basing their estimates on bird entrails and other leading edge indicators. The mismatch between Apple's projections and the analysts' estimates apparently results in the stock dropping, although it's worth noting that since Apple's Q1 results beat the analyst expectations handily (perhaps due to Apple's conservative guidance, or to a dearth of the right sort of dead birds), a drop in Apple stock could make for a good buying opportunity. (For a great analysis of how strong news led to the stock price tanking, see Matt Deatherage's "Apple's best-ever quarter is no disappointment" at Macworld.)

For the record, Tonya and I have never owned any Apple stock; aside from the obvious conflict of interest, it would be dangerous to have both our livelihoods and our investments dependent on the same company.

 

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