Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s earnings report last week was disastrous to the stock, which plummeted below $450 per share at one point; however some analysts aren’t ready to throw in the towel just yet.
Barclays PLC (LON:BARC) (NYSE:BCS) analysts said that while investors’ initial concerns about the company are clear, there’s more to Apple’s latest earnings report than just the negatives.
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In a report issued to investors today, analysts looked more closely at both the positives and negatives from Apple’s latest earnings report. They said they believe that “the tone around the ‘new guidance’ metrics sparked a bearish reaction,” but that Apple still has plenty of potential for long-term growth.
First they noted that when Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) changed its guidance protocol, it “created a stir.” Instead of giving the conservative guidance the company has given in the past, it decided to give investors a range that indicates what it will likely report.
Barclays believes that this was simply a way for Apple to “reset sell-side sentiment to lower expectations.” In the past it was generally believed that Apple would beat its guidance, but they say that the company is now in “a more mature phase” and must change the way it reports guidance.
Barclays PLC (LON:BARC) (NYSE:BCS) also noted that investors were upset that the iPhone won’t get a large screen any time soon, although they don’t believe CEO Tim Cook’s answer was a definite no. They believe the company is working on a larger screen size, although we might not see it this year.
Several analysts have noted that Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s big cash pile is a positive for the company, one thing that was missing from last week’s earnings call was a definitive answer on stock buyback plans. Some investors hoped that it would speed up its $10 billion buyback program, but there was no definite answer on what the company would do.
Barclays PLC (LON:BARC) (NYSE:BCS) said in order for Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) to keep moving forward, it also needs to release some major updates to its products and services. The analysts said they believe iTunes should get into the subscription services market and that the iPhone should become more than just a phone. “We find it hard to believe that iPhone users would switch to Android if their iPhone was a credit card, a TV remote and a conduit for iTunes subscription services,” they wrote.
So what about the positives? Of course several analysts have mentioned the fact that Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s cash flow is very strong. Also the fact that the company did the same amount of business in the four weeks of the fourth quarter of 2012 as it did in the five weeks of the fourth quarter of 2011 is pretty impressive. Many investors did not note immediately that there was an extra week in the quarter last year, so the company’s earnings were not flat. They actually increased.
The analysts also noted that Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s gross margin was still 38.6 percent in spite of what they call a “sizeable hit” from warranty accruals. In fact they believe that warranty accruals will be “a relative tailwind” quarter over quarter because the impact they have on earnings should not be as significant this time around.
Barclays felt that investors also “underappreciated” Apple’s growth in China, “which was in the triple digits.” They said iPhone sales doubled in China even though the iPhone 5 was only there for part of the fourth quarter.