Are MacBook Sales Preparing to Explode?

Steve Jobs likes to talk about history-making products, and in the case of the MacBook Air the moniker fits. Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) is gearing up its supply chain to ship 8 million of the sleek systems in time for back-to-school sales, DigiTimes reports.

Let's put that in perspective by taking a look at Mac shipments over the trailing 12 months.

Fiscal Quarter

Mac Units Sold (Thousands)

Revenue (Millions)

Q2 2011 3,760 $4,976
Q1 2011 4,134 $5,430
Q4 2010 3,885 $4,870
Q3 2010 3,472 $4,399
TOTAL 15,251 $19,675

Source: Apple's quarterly data summary reports.

Only once in the past four quarters has Apple sold more than 4 million Macs in a quarter, and that was in Q1. Now, if reports are to be believed, Apple could sell two quarters' worth of Macs and generate as much as $10 billion in revenue in Q3 alone.

Impressed? You should be. Dell (Nasdaq: DELL  ) managed roughly $8 billion in total computer sales during its latest quarter. Hewlett-Packard's (NYSE: HPQ  ) Personal Systems Group, which accounts for PC sales, generated $9.4 billion in revenue over the same period. If DigiTimes is right, Apple is on track to overtake both businesses. Not bad for a computing platform that some considered dead only a few years ago.

However, that's where another wrinkle comes into the story. Reports from suppliers by way of publications such as DigiTimes often miss the mark, sometimes by wide amounts. That's probably why institutional investors don't seem to care about these reports, and in truth the best approach toward them is skepticism.

But even if the report is erroneous, the broader point is that these numbers don't even include iPads. Throw them into the mix, and Apple becomes the world's leading seller of computers.  No matter how you slice it, Apple continues to excel at expanding sales in all computing areas.

Kick off the discussion using the comments box below. You can also add any of these stocks to your watchlist to get our latest analysis as it's published.

Fool contributor Tim Beyers is a member of the Motley Fool Rule Breakers stock-picking team. He owned shares of Apple at the time of publication. Check out Tim's portfolio holdings and Foolish writings, or connect with him on Twitter as @milehighfool. You can also get his insights delivered directly to your RSS reader.

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Read/Post Comments (10) | Recommend This Article (8)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On June 26, 2011, at 11:26 AM, ConstableOdo wrote:

    It's true that institutional investors don't care about anything Apple does because all they need is to keep the Apple short-selling machine working. Let Apple stock run up early in the week and then short it down for the remainder of the week. It doesn't suit institutional investors and day traders to allow Apple shares to rise, no matter how many MacBooks, iPhones or iPads Apple sells. Institutions are happy that Apple trades in a narrow range. Apple could overtake both Dell and HP and it still won't make a difference for Apple's share price. However, Apple's reserve cash is going to continue to grow immensely and could very well reach $90 billion by the end of the year. Great for Apple, but not much good for Apple long-term individual shareholders.

    I doubt Apple can move 6 million desktop and notebook Macs in a quarter and also move 10 million iPads. That would practically flip the regular Windows computing industry on its head.

  • Report this Comment On June 26, 2011, at 12:54 PM, jekoslosky wrote:

    I don't have the numbers at my fingertips, but I believe Apple is also quickly taking market share in desktops. It's a forgotten and shrinking segment of computer sales. But it's still significant. Think of all the workplaces that have PCs at every desk that will be replacing those desktops.

    At these prices for Apple (15 P/E), I've made it my second biggest holding next to Ford.

    See my portfolio here: http://bit.ly/iUPcpf

  • Report this Comment On June 26, 2011, at 12:57 PM, skippywonder wrote:

    Constable, Institutions are no more a monolith than individual investors are. There is no conspiracy to sell apple short. For one thing, anyone choosing to bet the other way would stand to gain a great dealif the shorts failed. And given Apple history and future as a company and AAPL's history as a stock, someone would figure out that shorting Apple is not an easy play.

    What's affecting Apple right now is sentiment. Misguided concerns. Anyone thinking he is a genius by shorting Apple mid-week is picking up nickels in front of a steam roller.

  • Report this Comment On June 26, 2011, at 2:48 PM, spaceshark wrote:

    Apple's other problems:

    1. iPhone 4 tech troubles (from faulty sliders to dropped calls)

    2. Final Cut Pro X - putting out a bad product forgetting that professionals where the ones recommending you

    3. No Flash on iPad - making iPad 1 the only one to buy. Nothing else matters till flash is solved.

    4. Treating customers like the U.S. Health Care system. What you bought a computer 3 years ago? Sorry we no longer support that.

    Reminds me of AOL at its peak... Apple is at the crest..

  • Report this Comment On June 26, 2011, at 2:56 PM, TMFMileHigh wrote:

    @spaceshark ,

    >>Nothing else matters till flash is solved.

    I think you're way off the mark on this. Apple's iPad supports streaming via Hulu Plus, Netflix, HBO2GO *and* YouTube. Android tabs support ... YouTube.

    Flash is a non-issue till the Masters of the Streaming Universe decide Android is a viable tablet platform. More:

    http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2011/06/24/what-the-he...

    FWIW and Foolish best,

    Tim (TMFMileHigh and @milehighfool on Twitter)

  • Report this Comment On June 26, 2011, at 3:21 PM, steveonyx wrote:

    Every day as I interact with companies around the country I see Apple making significant progress in penetrating the enterprise. In some cases it is with the blessing of the CIO and the IT organization and in other cases it happens against the grain of the CIO. In either case it is happening and it is accelerating.

    It sure feels like the stock price is being manipulated recently. But, whether it is or is not, the pure fundamentals say that the manipulation cannot last beyond another quarterly release or two. At a minimum the manipulators will have to raise the price at which they carry out their manipulation.

    I'm well positioned for the ride up to $365-$375 which is most likely the new area at which the manipulators will start playing their games after the next earnings release.

    Check out my successful trading of Apple options at: http://onyxinvesting.com/trade-history/

  • Report this Comment On June 26, 2011, at 4:21 PM, deasystems wrote:

    @spaceshark:

    You are badly misinformed:

    1. Large-scale surveys show the iPhone 4 is the most reliable smartphone available

    2. Final Cut Pro X is a prime example of Apple's constant search for perfection via creative destruction. FCP x represents a new paradigm that will take time to mature. Apple is willing to take the time necessary.

    3. Flash *is* solved. It is rarely necessary anymore and, in fact, is not wanted due to its well known deleterious effects on security, privacy, stability, and performance.

    4. Apple still supports Mac OS X 10.5 ("Leopard") which is officially supported on computers as old as 2002 models.

  • Report this Comment On June 26, 2011, at 8:26 PM, xMoe1 wrote:

    @spaceshark ...

    just to stress this one more time - Flash is horrible, horrible tech/code/environment. Maybe it was OK and useful 5 to 10 years ago, but not any more, definitely not in mobile and I would say that after removing flash or blocking flash on my PCs, the PCs work much better - and I get far fewer epileptic fits.

    I do think FCProX is a major disaster... Pro's dont need creative descruction, they need things that work and work with THEIR workflows. Hell Pixar (apparently) does not even use Final Cut ... odd, considering... and

    Apple killed the hardware XServe's ... which was simply dumb. It wont hinder iOS, but it could have supported or augmented iOS. It was a good option for many types of companies, organizations and even medium sized departments ... but apparently because Apple makes so much on the iOS side, they have forgotten their roots in the "pro" side and the Unix/NeXT side.

    If any shops were thinking of ditching or depricating AD and going to Apple's OD, they were lucky they did not make the investment - as Apple pretty much killed it.... No virtualiztion for OS X Server either ... I fear this will wither on the vine (maybe it already is) like Final Cut Pro.

    Also their change to glossy screens is horrible (though their are alternatives - so its not a 100% killer - unless you like the new iMacs, but hate the screens).

    I do prefer their products over Windows/Microsoft/Google/Android, but they are really shooting themselves in the foot with their neglect of Mac OS X, OS X Server, server hardware and the other "minor issues" .... and even if iCloud is a hit, groups still need servers to manage the local machines/data/printing/wikis, etc...

  • Report this Comment On June 27, 2011, at 9:11 AM, mrmikey2323 wrote:

    I agree with the statement that Flash is dead. Even Adobe includes HTML 5 tools in all their Flash products (this was just confirmed with a long conversation with Adobe Sales).

    I am an iPad2 owner and the no Flash thing hasn't hurt my web browsing in any way. If there are Flash elements, they come up blank. If they are essential to the design of the site, I send an email to the site designer admonishing them for this, and simply navigate away.

    The only site so far that has truly disappointed me because of this "issue" is CTV.ca where all of their videos are in Flash format. That prompted an email to them, to be sure, and to view any missed episodes of TV shows I either use the US network sites, or the sites of the production houses that make the shows.

    Needless to say, there are always workarounds, but losing users and web views because of Flash just isn't worth it, especially with 14-odd million iPads out there, and millions more by the end of this year.

    Flash is dead. Long live HTML 5.

  • Report this Comment On June 28, 2011, at 10:39 AM, FutureMonkey wrote:

    The relevant information is Year-over-Year growth for Q3 (back to school quarter). Tracking unit sales, revenue, and margin.

    I'd like to see acceleration in those Q3 numbers as a strong indicator of Apple's continued expansion of it's share in the laptop market.

    FM

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