Like It or Not, Apple Will Be Apple
Over the past decade, the company's growth has been nothing short of extraordinary -- particularly as it faced threats from Google (GOOG) , Microsoft (MSFT) and Amazon (AMZN) , hated rivals that want nothing more than to put the company out of business.
However, on the heels of Apple's fourth-quarter earnings report and ensuing guidance, many bears have taken to the streets and proclaiming victory.
It seems Apple's results have suddenly created an "aura of uncertainly" regarding the company's future. But I ask, really? I think it is time for investors to take a more realistic view of where the company is and how it chooses to operate.
Apple cares very little about your expectations. Instead, it does what it does -- operating on the premise that nothing is more important than achieving its goals.
During the quarter, Apple reported net income of $8.2 billion, or $8.67 per share, on revenue of $35.97 billion. Although the company beat revenue expectations, Apple fell slightly short of EPS estimates of $8.85 per share. Sales surged 27% year-over-year, while profits grew by 23% during that span.
The company sold 27 million iPhones - representing an annual unit growth of 58%. Likewise, iPads also performed well, with unit growth reaching 26% as Apple sold 14 million of its market leading tablet.
Gross margins arrived at 40% -- declining slightly by less than half of a percent. This was the result of increased costs, which climbed year-over-year by 27%.
That the company still managed to generate over $41 billion in net income for the full fiscal year is nothing short of remarkable, particularly in what has been a tough macro environment. Equally impressive was its operating cash flow, which arrived at over $50 billion.
But it was the company's guidance that curbed that would have otherwise been a good quarter.
Apple is known to under-promise and over-deliver. For the first quarter of fiscal 2013, the company expects to earn $11.75 per share on revenue of $52 billion. Also disappointing analysts was Apple's margin projections, which arrived much lower than expected. This comes after margins already slipped by 20 basis points in the most recent quarter.
But I can't fault the company for running its business as it sees fit and not succumbing to stock price pressures or Wall Street's expectations.
Overall, this was a good quarter for Apple, which, despite its miss, continued to demonstrate excellent growth.