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投资理财

苹果让华尔街意外,但并非惊喜

Aaron Pressman 2018年11月06日

苹果的财务数据仍然强劲,但公司也警告说假期旺季销售可能不及华尔街预期。

苹果公司和华尔街分析师的季度业绩电话会议经常乏善可陈,既无新闻也无热点。但上周四晚的会议例外,因为苹果首席执行官蒂姆·库克和财务总监卢卡·马艾斯特利给投资界爆了一点儿料。这个“意外”把股东们吓了一跳,而且一度将苹果的市值压到了一万亿美元以下——这是今年8月突破万亿后苹果市值首次跌破。

上周四晚上,苹果首先披露了财务数据,表现仍然强劲,但苹果也警告说假期旺季销售可能不及华尔街预期,让投资者感到失望。

大约一小时后,财务总监卢卡·马艾斯特利扔出的“炸弹”放大了人们的失望情绪。逐条宣读了下一季度苹果在财报披露和会计方法上即将做的调整后,马艾斯特利冷冰冰地补充说,苹果已经决定不再披露iPhone、iPad以及Mac电脑的季度销量数字。

马艾斯特利向分析师念出了稿子上的话:“正如我们反复重申,公司目标是提供丰富人们生活的伟大产品和服务,以及无以伦比的客户体验,希望用户高度满意、热爱产品并且深度参与。实现目标之后,业绩也会非常亮丽。近年来我们的业绩表明,任何一个季度的产品销量都不一定能代表公司真正的实力。”

由于预期不佳,苹果公司股价在盘后交易已下滑了3%左右。此言一出,跌幅迅速扩大,一度达7.5%,原因是外界担心缩了水的数据或许另有所指。

分析师相当不满,他们说投资者或许会认为政策调整是为了避免承认iPhone销量下降。花旗集团分析师吉姆·苏瓦对库克和马艾斯特利说:“不公布iPhone销量可能会引发诸多负面反应。听上去你们还会继续披露收入,但可能会有人担心不公布数字意味着iPhone销量一年不如一年。”

库克和马艾斯特利回应了苏瓦,但之后略显唐突地结束了电话会议。库克解释说:“有点像你在超市把购物车推到收银台,然后收银员问:‘里面有多少件东西?’比起购物车里物品的整体价值,数量并不是很重要。”

过去一年中iphone的销量陷入停滞——和此前一年相比,销量仅上升了0.4%。但通过提高售价以及推出更贵的新款手机iPhone X,苹果让消费者花了更多钱,收入也实现迅猛增长。一年来,iPhone收入提高了18%,接近1670亿美元。

该策略仍在继续——上个月推出的新iPhone更为昂贵,首次亮相的高端型号iPhone XS Max的价格则更上一层楼。上周苹果故技重施,提高了新iPad Pro、MacBook Air和Mac mini的起售价。

马艾斯特利提出的一条理由无可争辩。他说,“几个最主要的竞争对手都不公布销量数据。”的确如此,亚马逊和谷歌等公司从未披露过季度销量,也不公布各类产品带来的收入,而苹果虽然不再透露销量,仍将公布收入数字。(财富中文网)

译者:Charlie

审校:夏林

Apple’s quarterly conference calls with Wall Street analysts can be tepid affairs, with little news or excitement. But that wasn’t the case on last Thursday evening, as CEO Tim Cook and CFO Luca Maestri dropped a bit of a bombshell on the investment community. The surprise spooked shareholders and briefly pushed the Apple’s stock market value below $1 trillion for the first time since it crossed that symbolic threshold in August.

Initially on last Thursday, Apple reported yet another quarter of strong financial results, though its warning that holiday season sales wouldn’t be as strong as Wall Street hoped disappointed investors.

That disappointment was magnified an hour or so later when CFO Luca Maestri dropped the bombshell. Reading off a list of reporting and accounting changes Apple would make in its next quarterly report, Maestri dryly added that the company had decided to stop disclosing exactly how many iPhones, iPads, and Mac computers it sold every quarter.

“As we have stated many times, our objective is to make great products and services that enrich people’s lives and to provide an unparalleled customer experience so that our users are highly satisfied, loyal and engaged,” he told the analysts, reading from the script. “As we accomplish these objectives, strong financial results follow. As demonstrated by our financial performance in recent years, the number of units sold in any 90-day period is not necessarily representative of the underlying strength of our business.”

Apple’s stock price, which had already slipped about 3% on the weak forecast in after-hours trading, quickly dropped as much as 7.5% on concern over what the reduced disclosure might signal. Though later, the drop moderated a bit and Apple’s value was sitting just above $1 trillion.

Analysts sounded less than pleased, saying investors may see the policy change as a way to avoid admitting that fewer iPhones are being sold. “You know, there will probably be a lot of pushback about not giving iPhone unit data,” Citigroup analyst Jim Suva said to Cook and Maestri on the call. “It sounds like you’re still going to give revenue data, but some people might fear that this now means that the iPhone units are going to start going negative year over year.”

Cook and Maestri pushed back, but ended the call somewhat abruptly after giving their responses to Suva. “This is a little bit like if you go to the market and you push your cart up to the cashier and she or he says ‘how many units you have in there,'” Cook explained. “It doesn’t matter a lot how many units there are in there in terms of the overall value of what’s in the cart.”

Over the past year, the number of iPhones sold has stalled—it rose just 0.4% compared to the same 12-month period a year earlier. But by raising prices and adding the new more expensive iPhone X model, Apple has convinced customers to pay more and showed strong revenue growth in the business. Over the last year, iPhone revenue increased 18% to almost $167 billion.

That strategy is continuing, as Apple’s new iPhones introduced last month came at higher prices and the company debuted an even more expensive top-end model, the iPhone XS Max. Then last week, Apple copied the strategy and raised starting prices for its new iPad Pro, MacBook Air, and Mac mini models.

One of the CFO’s rationales is indisputable. Masetri noted that “our top competitors do not provide unit sales information.” That’s true. Companies like Amazon and Google never reveal exactly how many gadgets they’ve sold in a quarter, or even the revenue generated by such products, as Apple will continue to do even after the surprise shift.

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