How disappointing, Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) .
Once again, you predictably blew past Wall Street's quarterly targets. Even against the backdrop of dramatic news -- shares took a 2% hit yesterday, after Steve Jobs stepped down for another medical leave of absence -- Apple reverted back to yawn-worthy form.
Apple wins. Analysts are dumb. Let's get back together and play this out again in three months.
Truth be told, Apple's quarter was pretty awesome. Revenue soared 71% to $26.7 billion. Earnings grew even faster, despite a slip in gross margins, with profits clocking in at $6.43 a share. Lowballing analysts figured Apple would earn only $5.38 a share on $24.4 billion in revenue. As always, they underestimated Apple's earnings power.
Source: Thomson Reuters.
Apple sold 23% more Macs than it did a year ago, but the real octane is coming from its iOS devices.
The class of Cupertino sold nearly four times as many iPhones as it did Mac laptops and desktops during the quarter. The 7.3 million iPads it sold during the past three months are huge, considering that the trendsetting tablet didn't even exist a year ago. Sure, iPod unit sales dipped, but that's irrelevant; iPhones and iPads do what iPods can -- and more. In the end, Apple sold nearly 43 million iOS devices, a 45% boost over the 29.7 million iPods and iPhones it cleared during the previous holiday quarter.
The only scintillating part of Apple's quarterly report came from a subtle jab at longtime iPhone and iPad partner AT&T (NYSE: T ) .
"We are firing on all cylinders and we've got some exciting things in the pipeline for this year including iPhone 4 on Verizon which customers can't wait to get their hands on," Jobs said, taking a parting shot on a few different levels.
Verizon Wireless -- the joint venture between Verizon (NYSE: VZ ) and Vodafone (NYSE: VOD ) -- hits the market with its version of Apple's iPhone 4 next month.
If there's any drama in last night's numbers, it will have to wait. Research In Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM ) shipped only 14.2 million BlackBerry devices during its fiscal third quarter, which ended in November. Apple sold 14.1 million iPhones during its September quarter. The quarters never line up exactly, but we should have confirmation in two months of whether the iPhone has truly passed the iconic BlackBerry.
I won't insult you by spending too much time on Apple's guidance for the current quarter. A profit of $4.90 a share on $22 billion in revenue is a trap for suckers, idiots, and analysts. Three months ago, Apple told us that it was looking to earn just $4.80 a share on $23 billion in sales during the holiday quarter. Good luck if you believed any of that.
In this dance, Apple leads, and Wall Street can't keep a beat. Apple's moves may be boring and predictable, but they're nonetheless impressive.
When do you think Apple will become the country's most valuable company? Will it even get there? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.