You have to almost feel sorry for Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL). When the rest of tech companies beat analyst estimates by a healthy margin, they're rewarded with huge stock gains. There's a certain online-retailing company that has increased over 100% over the last year on the back of two consecutive profitable quarters, propelled by its Web-services division.
Meanwhile, Apple continues to grow its top and bottom lines at a healthy clip with no appreciation from Wall Street. For perspective, the company increased its top line and diluted earnings per share 28% and 43%, respectively, while only watching its stock price increase 13%.
In a way, Apple is cursed by past performance. For years, investors could expect phenomenal growth from new products. Starting with the iPod, Apple's been able to sell its gadgets at healthy clips; matter of fact, Apple was able to sell 100 million units of each new device faster than the one before it.
According to Canalys, it is increasingly starting to look like Apple Watch will break this streak. But for investors, it really doesn't matter.
Canalys thinks the company sold 7 million units
According to the research firm, by way of Re/code, Apple has shipped 7 million units since this spring. Considering the watch has been in available for roughly six months, it's hard to believe the device will break the iPad's 100 million-units record of two and a half years, although it should be noted that the seasonally heavy first fiscal quarter, currently in process, is not included in Canalys estimates.
However, when it comes to expectations, it seems Apple Watch is disappointing Wall Street as well. Before the release, a host of analysts estimated the company would sell 22.5 million during calendar year 2015, with Morgan Stanley's Katy Huberty, in her "bull case," once estimating the company would sell 60 million watches in the first 12 months.
If Canalys' data is correct, these figures seems notably aggressive. To be fair to these analysts, though, it's really hard to gauge demand for an entirely new product.
For investors, not really a big deal either way ... now
Before the narrative "Apple is struggling" takes hold, it's important to note that this is still a nascent and growing field and Apple is doing well at growing market share. Unlike Samsung's (NASDAQOTH: SSNLF), 2014's smartwatch leader, Apple is growing its market share and redefining the industry. For both companies, however, smartwatches aren't an important part of their revenue haul.
Neither company reports smartwatch revenue separately, although Samsung doesn't report any specific product separately, choosing to report its earnings by operating segment only. Apple separates its revenue on a product basis for products it considers material. Unlike its iPads, iPhones, and Macs, however, Apple doesn't feel the revenue generated from its Apple Watch isn't important enough for separate disclosure.
And if Canalys' figures are accurate, Apple is right that Apple Watches, albeit nice, aren't material to the investment thesis -- at this point. As the industry grows in size and capability, amid improving technology, it's possible it could become a must-have device -- but we're not there yet. Apple investors, continue to look to the iPhone and China operations for operational performance.