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Apple Inc’s Mac Success Is Something of a Surprise

By Jamal Carnette, CFA - Jul 24, 2015 at 1:11PM

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Apple's Mac is performing well in a rough industry.

The company's new MacBook. IMAGE SOURCE: FLICKR USER MAURIZIO PESCE.

If you haven't gotten the memo, PC sales are anemic. For the most recent reminder of the horrible state of the industry, look no further than Gartner's second-quarter worldwide PC shipments statistics. According to the information technology research firm, worldwide PC shipments totaled 68.4 million units in this year's second quarter, down significantly from last year's corresponding total of 75.6 million -- 9.5%, to be exact.

Of course, this is only more bad news in what's become an ongoing trend. In the first quarter Gartner found the worldwide PC market contracted 5.2% on a year-over-year basis. To be fair, Gartner tends to ascribe continued poor year-over-year performance mostly to temporary factors, blaming 2014's famous XP support purge for problems in the first quarter and a strong dollar for slower unit shipments in the second quarter. Many other observers, however, think the problem is less cyclical and more structural. More directly stated, many are predicting the death of the PC.

Still, there are a few companies that seem immune to this poor performance. Most notably, Apple (AAPL 0.01%) seems to be able to perform while other companies struggle.

Let's talk about that first quarter
While the rest of the PC market contracted on a year-over-year basis in the first quarter, there were some companies that did grow. Chinese vendor Lenovo and Hewlett-Packard registered worldwide shipment growth of 5.7% and 2.5% respectively on a year-over-year basis. And while Apple itself was not included in Gartner's named companies, listed instead under its "others" category, Apple's results during a near-matching period can be gleaned from its financial statements.

For Apple's second fiscal quarter, which mostly corresponds to the first calendar quarter, Apple reported Mac unit growth of 10%, going from 4.14 million to 4.56 million units. Apple performed better than major PC manufacturers and in stark contrast to the overall market. Of course, it's important to acknowledge Apple's PC's are not specifically affected by the previous year's Windows XP forced upgrade cycle, thus benefiting from a better comparison number, but that doesn't explain its second-quarter performance.

Apple's second-quarter CPU performance is strong
On Tuesday July 21, Apple reported its fiscal third-quarter earnings (second calendar quarter). Overall, the company did beat analyst expectations on revenue and earnings, hitting $49.6 billion and $1.85, respectively, versus $49.4 billion and $1.81, respectively. And while the company beat established analyst expectations, the stock fell as actual investors wanted higher revenue and earnings (the proverbial "whisper number"). Shares of the company fell as much as 7% after-hours as of this writing.

And although Mac units fell slightly short of estimates of 4.9 million, the company reported nearly 4.8 million units sold. When compared to last year's total of 4.4 million, Apple reported a 9% year-over-year growth in unit shipments. Again, this is in direct contrast to the overall shipments in the greater computer industry, which fell the aforementioned 9.5%, according to Gartner's data. For Apple to grow in this market is a sign of its brand value proposition. Look for Apple to continue to grow Mac sales regardless of the overall industry's performance.

Jamal Carnette owns shares of Apple. The Motley Fool recommends Apple and Gartner. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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Stocks Mentioned

Apple Inc. Stock Quote
Apple Inc.
AAPL
$164.88 (0.01%) $0.01
HP Inc. Stock Quote
HP Inc.
HPQ
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Gartner, Inc. Stock Quote
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IT
$292.68 (-1.03%) $-3.04
Lenovo Group Stock Quote
Lenovo Group
LNVGY
$17.84 (-0.90%) $0.16

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