Wall Street went ape on Apple today.
The pride of Cupertino's stock got hammered, illustrating why the notoriously closed-mouthed company needs aggressive outreach to Wall Street and the financial press as competition heats up in the marketplace.
Shares are currently down more than $60 or 12 percent to $452, which is within hailing range of the $443.14 low of the past 52 weeks. Apple traded at a $705.05 high on Sept. 19.
Analysts fell over themselves today, downgrading Apple’s outlook. Jeffries Group yanked a “buy” rating and put a “hold” on the stock. AAPL’s target price was slashed from $800 to $500. Deutsche Bank issued a new target price of $575, off from $800. Scotia Capital is now shooting for a $528 price target, off from $600.
The carnage follows Apple’s release late yesterday of flat quarterly profit of $13.1B on a 17 percent sales rise.
At the risk of sounding like an Apple groupie, the chaos is overblown.
In the first paragraph of the earnings release, Apple made it plain that the just completed fiscal 2103 had 13 weeks instead of the 14 of last year. That makes it an apples and oranges comparison. If fiscal 2013 had another $4.2B average week of revenues, overall net would up have been up for the year. That weekly revenue average is up nicely from the $3.3B figure of last year.
Apple also said gross margins slipped from 44.7 percent to 38.6 percent. That’s expected due to the company’s major push into places like China, where Apple’s products are cheaper. Foreign sales generated 61 percent of Q1 sales.
During the quarter, Apple sold 47.8M iPhones (vs. 37M in '12) and 22.9M iPads (vs. 15.4M). Though both were record performances, the numbers didn’t exactly rock the Street. Analysts projected a sale of 47M iPhones and 23M to 24M iPads.
Apple’s code of PR silence may have worked when Steve Jobs was around, but a bigger Apple at war on various fronts with Samsung, Facebook, Amazon and Google needs PR outreach to temper Wall Street’s financial expectations.
Tim Cook is in control of Apple. He claims a product pipeline that’s filled with high-tech wonders. It’s Wall Street that has to come under control when it comes to Apple.