Apple’s earnings on Tuesday night weren’t as bad as many were expecting, and neither was its fiscal fourth-quarter guidance. With expectations having come down drastically over fiscal 2013, many weren’t expecting much. But as the year gets older, Apple’s “rebirth” might be just about to begin. On the earnings call, CFO Peter Oppenheimer said the tech titan is going to ramp up its refreshes later this year. “We’re on track to have a very busy fall,” he said.
Judging by fiscal fourth-quarter guidance, Oppnehimer may have hinted that October, not September, is going to be the busy month. Many on the Street had been expecting a September iPhone refresh, given that’s largely been the track record in the past. For the fourth-quarter, Apple expects sales between $34 billion and $37 billion, with gross margins between 36% and 37%.
Traditionally during a product launch, gross margins come down as component costs are at their peak. Over time, Apple has been one of the very best at squeezing out additional revenue from lowering component costs, something that’s been CEO Tim Cook’s specialty since he started at Apple.
Many expect Apple to refresh its iOS device line with the iPhone 5S, a low-end iPhone and perhaps new iPad and iPad mini in the fall time frame. With a new iPhone product lineup and new iPad lineup, earnings growth may return to Cupertino, something shareholders are desperate to see.
Apple earned $7.47 per share in the fiscal third quarter this year, which was above the $7.32 consensus estimate. That’s still well below what Apple earned last year, when it posted a net profit of $9.32 per share during its fiscal third quarter. Apple is in desperate need of new products. Combined with last night’s better-than-expected report and the coming months of speculation, hype and anticipation, perhaps Apple shares can start to rebound.
The next iPhone will go a long way towards alleviating concerns that Apple’s biggest revenue generator is going out of style. However, the new product categories that Cook has mentioned before may just show Wall Street that innovation is alive and well at Apple, signaling a rebirth of sorts. “From a growth point of view for Apple our key catalysts will be, always will be new products and new services and these are above in existing categories that we’re in and in new categories,” Cook said on the call.
With shares up more than 4% Wednesday morning, it looks as if the rebirth is starting. It’s only a few more months before we see what Apple has in store for its consumers. That’s “one more thing” that may prove to be music to investors’ ears.