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How Apple Inc. Bore Fruit Internationally in 2015

By Motley Fool Staff – Feb 3, 2016 at 9:13AM

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Slowdowns in some of the world’s fastest-growing economies have investors worried about Apple’s ability to sustain the impressive growth it's enjoyed over the past few years.

Many investors have been nervous about Apple's (AAPL -1.51%) international performance over the past year, and with good reason: Non-U.S. sales make up two-thirds of the company's revenue.

In this clip, Sean O'Reilly and Dylan Lewis look at the numbers from the recent earnings call, and discuss to what degree currency issues affected Apple's top line, how the company's China strategy looks in light of recent concerns about that country's economy, and why investors shouldn't try to predict currency movements.

A transcript follows the video.


This podcast was recorded on Jan. 29, 2016.

Sean O'Reilly: They already own America, how are they doing internationally?

Dylan Lewis: On a constant-currency basis, Apple would have reported 8% year-over-year growth, which would have amounted to an extra $5 billion on the top line.

O'Reilly: That would have been nice, right? So, obviously, currencies -- didn't Cook talk about that on the call? Like, "We don't know what's going on, but the world's crazy right now with these currencies." (laughs)

Lewis: Yeah, he touched on it. He was like, "There's just a lot of crazy stuff going on!" That was basically the gist of it (laughs).

O'Reilly: Did you see last night that Japan's going negative with their interest rates?

Lewis: Yeah, my roommate was talking about that!

O'Reilly: They're actually charging you to -- anyways. Sorry to interrupt, go on.

Lewis: No problem. So, instead, due to the strong dollar, the company and investors had to settle for just a 2% bump. So, you think, that's 6 percentage points difference that they face due to headwinds. Looking at China, obviously one of the big markets for them, in fiscal Q4 2015, they experienced year-over-year growth of 99%, which is staggering. This quarter, year-over-year growth of 14%. That is a -- I mean, it's still growth.

O'Reilly: Yeah. It's not white-hot or on fire or anything like that.

Lewis: But it's definitely a "pump the brakes a little bit on that" segment. Similarly, emerging markets, 65% growth in fiscal Q4 2015, and this most recent quarter, 11% growth.

O'Reilly: Everybody's worried about China, hard landings, all this stuff right now. Cook's still bullish on them, right? He's optimistic?

Lewis: Yeah. The general tone that you got from the conference call was, we're going to continue our rollout plans. I think they have the aim ... I think there's something like 28 stores in China right now ...

O'Reilly: That's it?

Lewis: ... and they're looking to get to something like 40 in the next year or two. None of this has affected those plans, they're still going to run through with that. But, the foreign stuff is a legitimate concern. Two-thirds of Apple's revenue comes from outside the U.S. at this point. So the strong dollar, while it's fantastic for them buying components and things like that, does make it tough to operate in some of these foreign markets.

O'Reilly: Long-term, though, that is a pendulum that'll probably swing the other way eventually, I would think.

Lewis: You have to think. We're not really in the business of macro economics ...

O'Reilly: Protocols and George Soros-y type stuff.

Lewis: And I think one of the things that's always preached is, you can't predict which way currencies are going to move or what's going to happen on the more global scale, but the companies that are operating well have great products and satisfied customers are going to continue to operate in that way. I think that's what we're seeing here with Apple. That said, they have had to make some regional price adjustments.

Up or down? (laughs)

Lewis: Up, to counter some of the currency issues and devaluations. So, Luca Maestri, the CFO, I think some of his comments during the conference call had alluded to the fact that they've made some moves, but it's possible there could be a ceiling at some point. There's a trade-off when you raise prices that you're diminishing demand. So, I think they know that inflection point is somewhere off in the distance ...

O'Reilly: Because you're willing to pay $100, $150 or whatever above a comparable Samsung for an iPhone, but once you start getting above that, it's like, yeah ...

Lewis: Yeah, the brand cache they have only offers so much pricing elasticity.

O'Reilly: They're not quite Tiffany. Someday.

Dylan Lewis has no position in any stocks mentioned. Sean O'Reilly has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends 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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