Apple (AAPL) reported fiscal second quarter results yesterday crushing estimates of both Wall Street analysts and as well as industry research groups like IDC. Apple reported their highest quarterly iPhone sales ever with 8.75 million units sold worldwide, leading Kaufman Bros analyst Shaw Wu to remark,
“The iPhone numbers nearly match the Christmas sales numbers. You have to ask whether Christmas has come again for Apple in March.”
Apple reported net income of $3.1 billion, up 90% from Q2 2009 and revenue increased 49% year-over-year to $13.5 billion. Earnings per share came in at $3.33. Gross margin was 41.7%, 270 basis points above Apple’s guidance. Gross margin for the current quarter is however expected to fall to 36% with 25% of the drop attributed to the introduction of the iPad.
Consensus analyst expectations for the quarter were earnings of $2.43 per share and these expectations had already been revised higher multiple times over the last three months. IDC had expected Mac sales to increase 24% when compared to Apple’s 33% year-over-year increase to 2.96 million units. Industry research firm Gartner was on the money expecting Mac sales to increase 34% year-over-year. Based on Gartner estimates, Apple is the fifth largest PC vendor in the United States with 8% market share.
Going into this quarter Apple has strong tailwinds in the form of the iPad, a new line of MacBook Pro laptops that was released just this week (it sucks that my four month old MacBook Pro is already outdated) and a new version of the iPhone that is widely expected to launch in June. In the words of Apple COO Timothy Cook regarding the iPad, “We will see where this thing goes but it has shocked us the level of demand at least initially”. Considering their experience with iPhone demand over the last three years, one would hardly expect Apple to be caught off guard by the demand for iPad, which we discussed in the article The iPad Revolution: Naysayers are Missing the Big Picture last week. The comment by Mr. Cook combined with Apple’s decision to delay the international launch of the iPad clearly indicates strong sales of the product.
A breakdown of the results by product line is given below. Once I compiled this information from their conference call transcripts, it was interesting to see that the average selling price of the iPhone dropped to $600 from $620 in the first quarter but is up from $579 in Q2 2009. Also worth noting is that while iPod units have dropped year-over-year, revenue was up 12% due to a higher mix of the more expensive iPod Touch. iPhone revenue mentioned below does not include revenue from accessories and carrier payments.
|Product Segment||Q2 2010
|Mac (Units)||2.94 million||3.36 million||2.22 million||33%|
|iPods (Units)||10.9 million||21 million||11 million||-0.91%|
|iTunes (Revenue)||$1.1 billion||NA||NA||NA|
|iPhone (Units)||8.75 million||8.7 million||3.8 million||131%|
|iPhone (Revenue)||$5.3 billion||$5.4 billion||$2.2 billion||141%|
Apple earned $7/share in the first half of fiscal 2010. Analyst expectations for the year were $12.06/share based on Q2 coming in at $2.45. Using the higher Q2 actual EPS of $3.33 and leaving the consensus analyst expectations unchanged for the second half of the year, we still get an EPS of $12.94 for fiscal 2010. Based on yesterday’s closing price of $244.59, we get a forward P/E of 18.89.
The company has nearly $23.155 billion in cash and short-term investments on its balance sheet, which works out to about $25 per share. Given the strength of its balance sheet, high growth and a slate of new products, the stock probably still has a lot of room to run.
Voluntary Disclosure: No position in Apple.
About a decade ago, in the quest for a convergence device that could do email, browse the internet, manage task lists, etc., I decided to check out the smartphone offerings from Verizon in Oregon. Besides the fact that most phones offered by Verizon back then were unappealing in general, the only device I could find was a Kyocera smartphone that felt like a brick, cost more than $500 and was as attractive as a pack mule (no disrespect intended towards pack mule lovers).
Research In Motion (RIMM) took the lions share of the smartphone market with its Blackberry line of smartphones by getting email right and building durable phones that did not crash. However even though I was a power Blackberry user, as soon as the iPhone released, I knew this was the convergence device I had been waiting for. While the Blackberries models circa 2007 like the 8700 and the Curve could do email well, the selection of apps was limited, the process of getting an external app cumbersome and the Blackberry browser felt like something from the stone age after trying out Safari on the iPhone. Research In Motion has been playing catch up since the release of the iPhone.
Amazon’s Kindle device is going to experience a similar fate following the release of the iPad. When considering gift ideas for my nephew whom I was going to meet after nearly 8 years, I strongly considered getting him a Kindle given his passion for reading but ended up picking up an iPad instead. The iPad is a convergence device that successfully combines the best of an E-book reader and a Netbook. Not only can you access books on the iPad through the iBooks application, an app called Free Books given you access to over 23,000 free books. The FreeBooks app itself costs $1.99 for the iPhone and iPod Touch but is free for the iPad.
Apple sold 300,000 iPads on the day it was released. This was well below analyst estimates that had touted sales as high as 600,000 to 700,000. As you can read from the article titled “Apple Analyst Pulled 700,000-iPads-Sold Number Out Of His Ass”, those analyst estimates were little more than conjecture. You are not alone if you find it ironic that Wall Street’s disgraced internet poster boy Henry Blodget is taking a shot at another analyst.
The Monday following the release of the iPad, I was surprised to see Michael Bigger of Bigger Capital short the stock of Apple. I respect Michael’s investing acumen given his decision to pick up Amazon.com (AMZN) following the 2001-2003 recession and more recently footwear company Crocs (CROX) after most people had given up on the company for dead. He has the rare ability to not only go against the crowd but also has the patience to hold on to his investments for years. His approach brings the words of the great speculator Jesse Livermore to mind. In the book Reminiscences of a Stock Operator by Edwin Lefèvre, Jesse is quoted as saying
“It never was my thinking that made the big money for me. It always was my sitting. Got that? My sitting tight! It is no trick at all to be right on the market. You always find lots of early bulls in bull markets and early bears in bear markets. I’ve known many men who were right at exactly the right time, and began buying or selling stocks when prices were at the very level which should show the greatest profit. And their experience invariably matched mine–that is, they made no real money out of it. Men who can both be right and sit tight are uncommon.”
Michael’s coverage of Crocs was published in the March 2010 edition of SINLetter and the stock is up more than 45% since that newsletter was published. I can see why Michael and a number of other people would dismiss the iPad as a fad but I felt that he was missing the bigger picture here (yes Michael, this is a pun on the name of your investment firm). The similarly priced iPhone sold 270,000 units when it was first released but eventually went on to sell more than 25 million units in 2009 (3.8 million in fiscal Q2, 5.2 million in fiscal Q3, 7.4 million in fiscal Q4, 8.7 million in fiscal Q1 2010) and now has every smartphone company from Palm (PALM) to Research in Motion playing catch up. After testing the water shorting Apple, Michael decided the momentum was too strong and covered his short position in Apple for a small profit.
The Apple sales associate who helped me with my iPad purchase used an iPod Touch to accept my credit card payment right on the floor of the Apple store without requiring a visit to a long checkout lane. You can currently use the iPhone and the iPad to unlock your car and start it remotely using the Viper SmartStart app should you desire a warm and toasty car on those chilly winter mornings. I can easily fathom someone developing an app that would allow restaurants to accept orders using iPads from tables and displaying these orders on a large screen for the chef along with the timestamp of the order. With over 3,000 apps specifically designed for the iPad and the ability to use a majority of the 180,000 iPhone apps, the number of ways you could use this device is almost limitless. Zynga’s word game Scramble 2, which is actually an iPhone app and not a native iPad app was fun to play on the iPad even after I expanded the app to make it fit the iPad screen. According to tech review site Engadget, “To say Apple is about to put a major dent in Kindleworld is an understatement. The iBooks app is one of the most beautiful and thoughtful uses of the iPad screen real estate on the device.”
Amazon.com’s Kindle reader is available in 130 countries and Amazon sells 6 Kindle books for every 10 physical books sold. Despite this first mover advantage, the iPad is a clear and present danger to Amazon’s Kindle device. Amazon would do well to take a page out of Google’s Android book and focus its attention towards using the Kindle software as a delivery device for its customers irrespective of the actual hardware used. When the editor of Wired magazine Chris Anderson released his book Free: How Today’s Smartest Businesses Profit by Giving Something for Nothing on the Kindle for the grand price of $0 (the hardcover version cost more than $20 at the time of release), I decided to give the Kindle app for the iPhone a whirl and read nearly a third of the book on my iPhone. An iPad version of the Kindle app was released on April 7, less than a week after the iPad’s April 3, 2010 launch.
Amazon is a very well run company with their G&A expenses falling 25 basis points to 14.5% in Q4 2009 even as revenue grew 42% to $9.52 billion. Return on invested capital (ROIC) was an eye-popping 66%. In the fourth quarter of 2009, third party sellers accounted for 28% of overall worldwide revenue for the company. Amazon simply acts as a middle man for this revenue stream and it is highly profitable for the company. Amazon Prime, a service that offers 2 day free shipping for an annual subscription fee, is reaching maturity in international markets. As an Amazon Prime customer I can see how it could help enhance international growth in the months to come. However if your investment thesis regarding Amazon depends of Kindle fueled growth, this might be a good time to reassess that thesis. The iPad is going to change the landscape for every E-reader in the market including Kindle, Barnes & Noble’s nook and Sony’s Reader just like its little brother the iPhone did a couple of years ago.
On an unrelated note, I wrote most of this blog entry on a Virgin America (@virginamerica) flight from Washington DC to San Francisco. This was my first time flying Virgin America and the experience was as good as some of the best international airlines I have flown like Singapore Airlines and Emirates. In flight Wi-Fi and a personal entertainment console that can be used to watch movies, play games, order food and drinks by adding them to a shopping cart, listen to music by creating a custom playlist with artists ranging from Moby to Bob Dylan and even the ability to chat with others on the plane made the hours melt away. An upgrade to Main Cabin Select allowed me to check in bags, watch on demand movies and order as much food, snacks or drinks as I wanted without paying a dime more. The only thing that was not included was Wi-Fi, which was an additional $10 charge from a third party provider. I would highly recommend checking Virgin America out for domestic flights even if they cost a few dollars more than incumbents like United Airlines (UAUA) and keeping an eye out for an upgrade to Main Cabin Select (I only had to pay about $40 more).
Note: As mentioned in the March 2010 newsletter, we recently migrated to a new platform and this is the first article on this new platform. I would appreciate your feedback letting me know if the content of this email displayed properly in your email client.
The app store by Apple (AAPL) has been immensely successful since its launch on July 10, 2008 and has been the subject of countless media articles like this Dec 2009 New York Times article gushing about how it has helped certain developers become millionaires overnight. One billion apps were downloaded from the app store by April 23, 2009 and it was just 5 months later that Apple announced on September 28, 2009 that downloads had topped more than 2 billion. It took the app store just over 3 months to hit 3 billion downloads by January 5, 2010.
Everyone from mom and pop development shops to current SINLetter portfolio holding Activision Blizzard (ATVI) want in on this gold rush. Just like the California Gold Rush in the mid nineteenth century, it is often the people selling the tools that may end up becoming rich after the easy gold had been mined by early arrivals. This article is about those developers and companies that have tried to capture some of the app store magic only to find their apps disappear in a vast ocean of more than 160,000 apps.
One of the first iPhone games we reviewed on our sister site AppStruck shortly after its launch in May 2009 was a game with stunning graphics called Glyder published by a company called Glu Mobile (GLUU) that is listed on the Nasdaq stock exchange. There are just a handful of public game companies and when I found Glu, I decided to kick its tires to see if it was an investment worth considering especially given its focus on building games for the iPhone and the iPod touch. But before we get into the specifics of Glu, I figured it might be a good idea to get a reading on the market size.
Size of the App Store Ecosystem:
One of the first things a venture capitalist wants to know when you enter a room with your business plan is the size of the market and what portion of that market you expect to capture. The perception of the sheer size of the App Store ecosystem is one of the reasons start-ups like ngmoco have managed to raise $40 million from venture capital funds over the last two years. In stark contrast, Glu, which targets the exact same market, has a market cap of just $25.7 million.
The size of the App Store ecosystem has been a subject of lot of discussion and probably even Apple does not have the answer to it because the ecosystem not only includes the sales of apps through the App Store but also in app purchases of virtual goods and advertising revenue. Mining through the database of apps we built on AppStruck, I found that over 24% of the nearly 160,000 apps in the app store were free and 42% of them were priced at $0.99. Given below is the price distribution for 95% of the apps in the app store.
|Price||Percentage of Apps|
While having lunch in San Francisco with Jeff Scott, the founder of the leading iPhone app review site 148Apps.com and the Best App Ever Awards, we started discussing the size of the app store and he told me that roughly 70% of the people who land on his website are looking for free apps. GIGaom pegs the number of free downloads to 75% of all downloads based on data obtained by mobile analytics firm Flurry. Using the more conservative 75% number and assuming that downloads for the year 2010 are likely to hit 6 billion, it means that 1.5 billion downloads are for paid apps.
Based on the price distribution from the AppStruck app database, the weighted average price works out to $2.41 per app. The number should probably be lower because more 99 cent apps are likely to be downloaded than apps priced at $99.99. Taking a conservative approach, I am going to put the average price at $2. This means that the Apple app store is likely to generate $3 billion in revenue in 2010 on the low end and $3.61 billion on the high end of the range. Since developers get paid 70% of revenue, we have a potential market size of $2.1 to $2.53 billion available for developers.
AdMob, a mobile advertising company acquired by Google last November for $750 million, was approaching $100 million in gross revenue from advertising. Once you add revenue generated from virtual goods and advertising, the app store ecosystem could begin to approach $3 billion.
Part 2 of this blog entry will cover some of the challenges and opportunities that Glu Mobile faces in this rapidly evolving app store ecosystem.
A friend of mine likes to tell a story about how the first car he bought in the 1990s was a brand new Toyota Corolla that stalled in the middle of the 101 freeway in the San Francisco bay area, leaving him feeling very vulnerable and causing him to swear off all Toyota (TM) cars. He has since then purchased a number of cars made by Ford (F) and appears to be happy with them.
I had personally experienced a stalling issue with a new 2000 Toyota Camry that would manifest itself only when I exited a freeway and was stopped at a red light without manually turning the cruise control off. The dealer could not figure out why this was happening and the problem went away after a few months. In contrast I had very good luck with two Fords and still sometimes regret trading in my reliable 35th anniversary Mustang for an IS 350. Both these incidents occurred during a period of time when Toyota enjoyed the unblemished status of being one of the safest car companies and went on to surpass General Motors as the largest car company in the world. With two cars made by Toyota parked in my driveway (the IS 350 is affected by the recall), I have to say that over the years I have been satisfied with the quality and reliability of these cars.
Stalling of a car especially in the middle of a freeway could be dangerous but there is little that can unnerve drivers more than an accelerator pedal that gets stuck or brakes that do not do their job when needed. The situation Toyota faces right now has a number of parallels with the sudden acceleration related issues that Audi ran into in the mid 80s. The company issued a number of recalls and sales suffered as a result of the media attention the case received. It later came to light that there were really no problems with sudden acceleration and that most of the reports related to sudden acceleration had to do with human error. However the damage to Audi was already done and it took Volkswagen’s luxury brand a number of years to recover from this negative publicity. Given Toyota’s global reach and product lines, the impact of these recalls will probably not be felt as deeply at Toyota as they were at Audi.
These recalls and the associated media circus will impact Toyota in a number of ways including,
Toyota has shed more than $33 billion of its market cap since these recalls began but to ascertain if Toyota looks attractive at these levels, I am comparing several financial and valuation metrics of Toyota versus competitors like Honda and Ford in the tables below. With the acquisition of Jaguar and Land Rover from Ford, India based Tata Motors (TTM) has also become a global player and I have included this SINLetter favorite in the comparison as well.
These car companies are complex entities with operations in many countries and a number of product lines, so simple valuation metrics may not give us the complete picture but they provide a starting point for further analysis.
|Toyota (TM)||Honda (HMC)||Ford (F)||Tata Motors (TTM)|
|Levered Free Cash Flow (billions)||$3.47||$3.15||NA||NA|
|Toyota (TM)||Honda(HMC)||Ford (F)||Tata Motors (TTM)|
|Enterprise Value/Revenue (ttm)||1.12||1.78||1.17||0.50|
|Enterprise Value/EBITDA (ttm)||23.95||22.02||14.68||-239.15|
When you look at some of these valuation metrics, at first glance Ford actually looks more attractive than its peers with a trailing P/E of just 13.7 and a P/S of 0.33. However these numbers mask the fact that Ford’s profits in 2009 were primarily driven by Ford Credit and the automotive division lost money last year. The $132 billion in debt on Ford’s balance sheet is also as a result of Ford Credit and automotive debt at the end of 2009 was “just” $34.3 billion. Ford does expect its automotive division to post a profit in 2010 after excluding special items.
Toyota’s stock is currently trading at very close to book value at a price of $73.90, off 19.48% from its January 19th high of $91.78. In contrast, at the height of the financial crisis, the stock hit a low of $57.68 on March 9, 2009 and fell well below book value. There remains a distinct possibility that Toyota shares still have a ways to fall especially in light of the fact that they don’t exactly look cheap when compared to peers like Ford and Tata Motors. According to some estimates Toyota is losing $500 million in sales each month right now.
Given that the nearly one year old market rally appears to be sputtering and attractive investments are still available in the small cap sector, I would personally hold off on investing in Toyota at this juncture.
I received a question from a subscriber about Verizon asking if I would consider picking up Verizon’s stock over AT&T. I started this analysis for the December 2009 investment newsletter but did not get a chance to finish it back then and hence am publishing it as a blog post instead. While his question was only about Verizon and AT&T, I included both Sprint and Comcast in the comparison tables listed in the valuation section below. With the baby bells increasingly moving into bundled offerings that include TV service and Comcast offering phone service, I figured it would be a good idea to see how Comcast stacks up against the baby bells.
Growth for Verizon and AT&T is being driven primarily by wireless and service bundles that include TV, phone, internet service and cell phone even as they are losing wireline business. The focus of this post is the valuation comparison tables at the bottom but I have briefly touched upon the two factors that are driving growth at these companies.
FiOS or U-verse?
Verizon had planned on investing $18 billion by 2010 to build out its fiber optic network and launch the FiOS service. I still recall the stock dropping back in 2006 when that news came out but the carrier had no choice to invest or be left behind. FiOS is generating $1.4 billion in quarterly revenue right now with Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) of $137/month when compared to standard consumer ARPU of $75/month. Using the quarterly revenue and monthly ARPU number provided, Verizon had approximately 3.41 million FiOS subscribers by the end of the third quarter of 2009. They expect to add a million new FiOS subscribers a year. Even if Verizon ends 2010 with 5 million FiOS subscribers, this would still be well below the 7 million subscribers estimated by the company back in 2006 when they started investing in FiOS. The investment in FiOS will be “substantially” complete by the end of 2010.
AT&T’s equivalent service called U-verse is tracking well behind Verizon with 2 million subscribers as of December 9, 2009 but is growing at a much faster clip. Revenue from U-verse is expected to top $2 billion in 2010 and customers who purchase these services are less likely to leave AT&T, thereby reducing churn. Looking at the bundles offered by Verizon and AT&T, it looks like Verizon’s $99.99 bundle offers more bang for the buck especially when you take into account the FiOS internet service (up to 15 Mbps downloads and 5 Mbps uploads) when compared to the $132 triple play bundle offered by AT&T with their Pro internet service (3 Mbps downloads) and U200 TV service.
iPhone or Droid?
Over the last decade, I have used mobile phone service from 5 different carriers starting with Voicestream Wireless (acquired by T-mobile) in 1999 to my current iPhone with AT&T. My worst experience was with Sprint and AT&T comes a close second in terms of connectivity issues. If I had the ability to transfer my iPhone from AT&T to another carrier like Verizon, I most likely would. When a journalist from AOL reached out to me a few weeks ago about AT&T’s service in the San Francisco bay area, I told him that my calls often drop especially while driving along highway 101 on the stretch just north of the San Francisco airport. A friend of mine who lives in the City runs into two dead zones during a short 10 minute commute to work. The question is not if AT&T will lose its iPhone exclusivity but when.
Verizon on the other hand is often mentioned as the carrier with the best network but every time I looked at the phone offerings from Verizon I used to come away unimpressed. The much anticipated release of the Motorola Droid running Google’s Android operating system sparked new interest in Verizon a few weeks ago. When having lunch with a friend earlier this week, he showed me his new Motorola Droid phone that he purchased after returning an iPhone. He told me that while there were certain things the Droid better than the iPhone, while the iPhone was like having a beautiful and charming person by your side, the Droid was the equivalent of a being in the company of a robot. I briefly tried the Droid and was not impressed. In contrast as you can see from this very detailed comparison of the iPhone vs. the Droid posted on our sister site AppStruck.com, a lot of iPhone users have found the Droid to be a worthy rival if not an iPhone killer.
AT&T activated 3.2 million iPhones just in the third quarter of 2009 and if you look at AT&T’s wireless ARPU for post-paid customers, the phone has been very beneficial to AT&T bottom line despite the data usage issues that the top 3% of iPhone users are creating for AT&T. Churn rates for iPhone users are also lower.
If you were to only consider the numbers in the tables below, one could easily make the case of investing in AT&T over Verizon after considering its wireless ARPU, profit margins, leveraged free cash flow and dividend yield. However when you look at churn, the balance sheet, valuation (EV/Operating Cash Flow or EV/Revenue) and management effectiveness metrics such as ROA or ROE, Verizon appears to be the better alternative. Finally throwing in the risk of AT&T losing its iPhone exclusivity and the early ramp of FiOS, I would personally pick Verizon over AT&T. Interestingly legendary hedge fund manager George Soros decided to buy both AT&T and Verizon for his portfolio but picked up a larger stake in Verizon.
|Verizon (VZ)||AT&T(T)||Sprint (S)||Comcast (CMCSA)|
|Churn (Q3 2009)||1.13% (post-paid)||1.22% (post-paid)||2.17% (post-paid)||2.7% (TV)|
|Wireless ARPU (post-paid)||$52.78||$61.23||$56||NA|
|Gross Margins (Q3)||59.67%||58.24%||46.92%||60.67%|
|Operating Margins (Q3)||14.62%||17.46%||(3.16%)||19.65%|
|Profit Margins (Q3)||4.31%||10.34%||(7.88%)||7.43%|
|Return on Assets (ttm)||5.61%||4.88%||(0.87%)||3.94%|
|Return on Equity (ttm)||11.77%||11.24%||(15.62%)||7.5%|
|Verizon (VZ)||AT&T(T)||Sprint (S)||Comcast (CMCSA)|
|Levered Free Cash Flow (billions)||$7.2||$14.66||$3.73||$3.79|
|Verizon (VZ)||AT&T(T)||Sprint (S)||Comcast (CMCSA)|
|Enterprise Value/Operating Cash Flow (ttm)||5.09||6.15||5.73||7.22|
|Enterprise Value/Revenue (ttm)||1.44||1.82||0.83||2.16|