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蘋果季績略解(2013Q1)

April 24, 2013 Leave a comment

蘋果公司剛剛於大中華地區凌晨時分公布季度業績,期內iPhone以及iPad銷量按年均有增長,另外派息增加15%,股份回購計劃由100億美元擴大至600億美元,推動收市後股價上漲。不過,今次同時是近10年以來,蘋果公司首次出現盈利按年下降的情況,而且更預期今年第二季盈利繼續出現按年下降,兩大隱憂仍然存在。對消費者而言,此份業績最大的暗示是要到第三季度才會推出新產品,第二季度幾乎是沒有機會了。

第二季盈利料續降 兩大隱憂仍在

以下是蘋果對本季營運情況的預測(順帶一提,蘋果公司年結在9月底,因此蘋果第二財季是第一季度,第三財季是第二季度):

  • 收入介乎335億至355億美元(去年同期為350.23億美元)
  • 毛利率介乎36%至37%(去年同期為42.8%)
  • 營運支出介乎38.5億至39.5億美元(去年同期為34.21億美元)
  • 其他收入約為3億美元(去年同期為2.88億美元)
  • 稅率約為26%(去年同期為25.6%)

雖然蘋果沒有直接給予盈利預測,但按照上述幾個項目推算,蘋果第二季度稅後純利將介乎62.23億至70.93億美元,較去年同期88億美元純利將出現19%至29%的降幅,相比第一季度純利下降18%,降幅更加驚人。

蘋果營收持平,但為何盈利會下跌?主要原因其實就是上一篇文章〈蘋果季績詳解(2012Q4)〉提到的兩大隱憂,成本大漲及產品線互相蠶食,趨勢仍然持續。

成本大漲方面,第一季度收入按年增長11%,同時銷售成本(Cost of Sales)增加32%,令毛利下降12%。過去庫克掌舵蘋果供應鏈,翻手為雲,覆手為雨,但蘋果在成本控制方面的優勢已不復再,庫克亦承認,去年蘋果成本是歷史性地低企(historically low cost)。從去年下半年以來,智能手機市場競爭激烈,主要元件DRAM以及螢幕面板經常缺貨,在內地做手機的企業苦不堪言,就以酷派母公司中國無線(02369)為例,去年收入增長96%,但銷售成本增加102%,毛利僅增長59%,純利增長20%,其全年純利僅是蘋果的0.1%,但以小見大,亦能側面反映出蘋果面對的問題。(離題:蘋果及智能手機廠商蒸發的利潤,很大部分流入了上游企業手中,例如ARM首季每股盈利增長58%)

產品線互相蠶食主要是指低價產品蠶食高價產品市場,蘋果新產品吸引力正逐漸下降,因為智能手機出現效能過剩,即使iPhone 4 是三年前發布的產品,仍深受消費者歡迎,連庫克亦承認中國市場有很多潛在買家對iPhone 4 深感興趣。(China has a unusually large number of potential first-time smartphone buyers. We’ve seen a significant interest in iPhone 4.)蘋果第一季度iPhone以及iPad平均售價(ASP)再次出現雙降。首季iPhone均價微跌5%,至613.28美元,是iPhone推出以來的歷史新低,並且是連續第五個季度均價出現按年下降,反映低價iPhone比起高價版本愈來愈受歡迎,不過趨勢不算明顯。

另一方面,iPad mini的推出加速iPad平均售價的下滑,當季iPad均價下跌20%,至449.04美元,亦是自2010年推出iPad以來的歷史新低。當年iPad平均售價660美元,相比如今足足下降了32%。蘋果首席財務官Peter稱,第一季賣出的iPad mini數目遠比去年第四季為多,在3月底的iPad庫存達480萬部,增加的140萬部全部來自iPad mini。(We were able to sell significantly more iPad mini in the March quarter than in the December launch quarter. We ended the quarter with about 4.8 million iPads in channel inventory, a sequential increase of about $1.4 million. All of our sequential increase was attributable to iPad mini.)另外,按照之前的算法,iPad與iPad mini的銷量比例是五比五,比起去年第四季六比四,iPad mini的比例再有提高。

新產品第三季推出

其實蘋果對第二季的業績預測,單單是收入持平一項,就幾乎可以肯定蘋果不會在最二季推出新產品。不過今次蘋果管理層說得很清楚,新產品會在第三季推出。

庫克表示,蘋果正在新產品上努力,並逼不及待在今年秋季及明年推出。(Our teams are hard at work on some amazing new hardware, software and service that we can’t wait to introduce this fall and throughout 2014.)首席財務官Peter重覆稱,今年秋天及明年將有新產品推出。(I don’t want to be more specific, but I’m just saying we’ve got sort of really great stuff coming in the fall and across all of 2014.)

聽庫克如此強調2014年,個人估計,真正的「新產品」,無論是電視或手錶,明年推出的機會要大些。今年秋季,只能期望iPad/iPhone會有升級版本,最多觀望會否有iPad mini with Retina Display推出罷了!

蘋果股價將進入上升通道

蘋果提高派息,又擴大回購計劃,可算是回應了華爾街大鱷的訴求。先不說派息提高,到底600億美元回購計劃,規模有多大?蘋果如今股價406美元,已發行股份約9.4億股,市值達3800億美元。假設 全部600億美元於股價400美元時買入,便足夠買入1.5億股,佔蘋果全部已發行股份約16%,同時令蘋果每股盈利提升19%。換句話說,就算蘋果整體純利不變,蘋果股東「每股盈利」都會自然增長19%。

蘋果股價怎能不升呢?就算升19%都不過份,而且蘋果坐擁超過1400億美元現金,無論預測還是歷史市盈率都不足10倍,估值在美股尤其是藍籌股中實在屬於偏低,兼且派息還要提高15%,目前息率達到3%。

不過業務前景又是另一回事,增長放緩、成本上漲、低價產品蠶食高價產品市場,每一項趨勢都在持續,恐怕未來數季都不會真正改善。蘋果股價由700美元回落至400美元,幾乎下挫超過一半,當然不會空穴來風,不過既然蘋果都已拋出回購計劃及增加派息的甜頭,那麼蘋果股價回升,就一點也不出奇了。

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Categories: Finance, iOS, Mobile

卡牌遊戲

April 22, 2013 Leave a comment

打開Google Play Store,在「最高營收」頁面,排行首位的全都是卡牌遊戲,連筆者都淪陷了,在友人的誘使下,沉迷當中,連博客都懶得更新了。-_________-

筆者沉迷玩的,是排名第七的「靈異陰陽錄(Ayakashi)」以及排名第三十六的「逆戰幻想(Fantasica)」,不過其實與其他名列前茅的卡牌遊戲差異不大。

綜觀來看,此類卡片遊戲都(或多或少)包括以下元素:

  • 抽卡機制:既然是卡片遊戲,抽卡的元素當然不能少,抽卡會分為免費抽卡及收費抽卡,前者雖然免費但沒有任何機會抽到強力卡牌,後者收費但抽到強力卡牌的機會提高很多,遊戲主要是以此來誘使玩家消費付錢抽卡並獲得收入
  • 收集卡牌:每款卡片遊戲都有至少數百張卡牌,對少數人來說,會有強烈欲望集齊一系列卡牌,而少數珍貴卡牌不能透過一般渠道獲得,最後就得付錢抽卡
  • 玩家對戰:抽到強力卡牌又有甚麼用處?答案是在PvP玩家對戰中無往而不利,獲得戰勝其他玩家的快感;在此類卡牌遊戲中,付錢抽卡者佔據著極大的優勢,等級愈高情況愈普遍,如何在普通玩家及付錢玩家之間取得強弱平衡,成為遊戲是否好玩的關鍵
  • 探索冒險:如果遊戲單單是玩家對戰,很容易令人生厭,提供玩法類似傳統RPG方式的探索冒險,或者故事任務,使玩家與電腦對戰,是遊戲的一個緩沖,玩家有空時隨便玩玩,在獲得金錢、普通卡片及道具的同時,又可以提升等級
  • 養成融合:獲得卡牌後,要透過不同方法將卡牌養成變強,甚至進化成新卡牌,除了冒險任務外,玩家亦可以透過融合不必的卡牌來升級,在部分遊戲中,融合亦是獲得新卡牌的途徑之一

不少排名在前的遊戲,都改變傳統的對戰方式,加入其他對戰元素:

  • 攻防:最傳統的對戰方式,進攻一方的總攻擊力,對比防守一方的總防禦力,配合技能、隊伍組合、屬性相剋等元素,以總數高者勝,採用取遊戲不在少數,例如「百萬亞瑟王」、「靈異陰陽錄(Ayakashi)」
  • 塔防:塔防元素在流動平台大放異彩,確實有其引人入勝之處,玩家要根據地形配置卡牌抵禦敵方一波一波的攻勢,同樣要配合技能、隊伍組合、屬性相剋等元素,例如「逆戰幻想(Fantasica)」
  • 寶石消除:其實對寶石消除興趣不大,沒有玩過相關遊戲,不過Google Play Store「最高營收」排名首兩位的遊戲都包含寶石消除元素,其受歡迎程度可見一班,例如「神魔之塔」、「逆轉三國」、「ZOOKEEPER」

此類卡牌遊戲,令人聯想到兒時愛玩的「寵物小精靈」,探索冒險獲得新精靈,養成升級進化生蛋,想要集齊全部精靈,連配合技能、隊伍組合、屬性相剋等元素都很類似,確實喚起兒時回憶。其實寵物小精靈在配搭技能、屬性相剋方面變化更加豐富,寵物小精靈限於日本製作公司的固步自封,不肯開發iOS/Android平台遊戲,或者以授權方式允許其他公司開發,既是玩家們的損失,亦是任天堂的損失。

事實上,此類卡牌遊戲已經取得巨大的成功,無論是在玩家評價還是營收方面。對於玩家而言,此類遊戲耐玩(抽卡、探索冒險、融合升級,永遠都做不完,而且持續成長的感覺良好),附帶趣味性強的小遊戲(塔防、寶石消除等),最適合乘車等人的時候消磨時間,付錢玩家又有蹂躪其他玩家的快感,因此大受歡迎。

對而開發公司而言,普通玩家雖然不付錢,但會推薦朋友玩遊戲,而且其實是被販賣的「商品」(供付錢玩家蹂躪的對象),由此體現價值,而付錢玩家更是金主,重要性不言而喻。

Categories: Android, iOS, Mobile

煲劇

February 15, 2013 Leave a comment

myTV
Youku
Tudou
PPS
PPTV
IPTV
P2PRemote
火花電視劇
風行電影
千尋影視

破解區域播放限制:
http://www.wantyoutube.com/
http://www.92flv.com/
http://tw.getv-go.com/
http://p2premoteweb.heroku.com/
在iOS裝置設定代理自動配置PAC文件(http://yo.uku.im/proxy.pac)
在已root的Android裝置安裝ProxyDroid,並設置以上PAC文件

Categories: Android, iOS, Mobile

低價iPhone暢想

February 4, 2013 Leave a comment

蘋果公司會推出低價iPhone,已經是截釘斷鐵的事,沒有絲毫轉彎抹角的餘地。從庫克(Tim Cook)的口風,到iPhone的銷售情況,以至智能手機市場格局,再參考蘋果往績,以及最新披露出來的專利文件……種種跡象都顯示,低價iPhone是箭在弦上,不得不發。

庫克的口風?

最近蘋果公司公布2012Q4季度業績,在剛過去的季度業績電話會議中,庫克的提到

“We’re not interested in revenue for revenues’ sake. We could put the Apple brand on a lot more stuff, but we don’t want to do that. We have a great track record here, of the iPod doing different products at different price points and getting reasonable share for doing that. I wouldn’t view those things as mutually exclusive as some might.”(我們不會為增加營收而增加營收。我們可以將蘋果品牌放在很多不同產品,但我們不想這樣做。我們過往在iPod系列推出了不同價位的產品,並取得合理市場份額。我們不似其他人,會視這些東西為互相排斥。)

作為管理層,最重要的是懂得說話模稜兩可,似是疑非,庫克無疑是成功(當然梁振英在語言偽術方面更為出色)。正因為庫克的話隱晦又帶歧義,不同媒體對於庫克的話有著截然不同的解讀。

前半部分庫克的意思似乎是,不會盲目追求營收,隱含意思似乎是不想因此推出低價iPhone;但後半部分又指蘋果一直有此慣例,再出現同樣情況似乎又不出奇。最後一句話尤其令人摸不著頭腦,不視作互相排斥的「those things」,到底是指保持品牌形象和推出不同價位產品不排斥,還是指高價和低價產品不排斥?對於最後一句話,其實兩種解讀都意味著不排除推出低價iPhone,因為低價iPhone一樣可以保持品牌形象,低價iPhone與高價iPhone不會排斥。

事實上,蘋果公司是一間時常撒謊的公司,前言不對後語已是慣例。蘋果曾表示不推出NAND Flash的iPod,之後就推出iPod nano;一直強調不會推出小尺寸iPad,但又推出iPad mini。而今次,庫克的暗示如此明顯,顯示低價iPhone已經不遠了。

iPhone銷情:低階銷售強勁

每一間上市公司都是騙子,而財務報表就是最大的騙局,騙分析師騙消費者騙股民,每間公司都會「做數」,令讀者產生錯誤印象,而蘋果亦不例外。

蘋果其中一個謊言,在於iPhone的平均售價(ASP)。蘋果的iPhone銷量每逢推出新iPhone都會創新高,2012Q4亦不例外。當季iPhone銷售額按年升28%至306.6億美元,銷售增長29%至4778.9萬部,兩個數字都是有記錄以來最高。將銷售額將以銷量,就會得出平均售價,即是每一部iPhone賣出去的平均售價。

iPhone美國版售價:
iPhone 5 64GB USD$849
iPhone 5 32GB USD$749
iPhone 5 16GB USD$649
iPhone 4S 8GB USD$549
iPhone 4 8GB USD$499

此數字或多或少會反映出iPhone的銷售結構,到底是高階型號好賣,還是低階型號熱銷。如果單純看比較此數字,會發現iPhone的平均售價在過去三年一直在620美元至660美元之間窄幅幅動,到2012Q4仍維持在641.57美元,反映最新型號iPhone 5的16GB版本最好賣,而高階的iPhone 5 32GB以及64GB版本,銷量與iPhone 4以及iPhone 4S大致持平。

驟眼來看,很容易得出iPhone過去三年的銷售結構大致不變的結論。不過蘋果的數字是具有欺騙性的,iPhone平均售價不變,不是因為消費結構不變,而是蘋果加價。消費結構?早已在悄悄變化。

2010年:
iPhone 3Gs 8GB HKD$4088
iPhone 4 16GB HKD$4988
iPhone 4 32GB HKD$5888

2011年:
iPhone 3Gs 8GB HKD$2888
iPhone 4 8GB HKD$4688
iPhone 4S 16GB HKD$5088
iPhone 4S 32GB HKD$5588
iPhone 4S 64GB HKD$6688

2012年:
iPhone 4 8GB HKD$3488
iPhone 4S 8GB HKD$4688
iPhone 5 16GB HKD$5588
iPhone 5 32GB HKD$6388
iPhone 5 64GB HKD$7188

單看美國版iPhone的售價,並不覺得蘋果加價,每年蘋果無鎖機版最新iPhone的售價都維持在USD$649、$749、$849;但遠在香港,蘋果加價卻是顯而易見,甚至令不少人心生不滿。到了2012年,三種容量的最新型號iPhone,都比去年貴了HKD$500,換算作美元,約為USD$720、$820、$920。期間香港沒有開徵新稅項,港元兌美元亦沒有出現大幅變動,蘋果iPhone加價,是純粹為了加價而加價,也可以說是為了維持利潤率才加價。

其實不止香港如此,世界各地不少地方都出現iPhone加價或普遍貴過美國版的現象,部分是因為稅率,但撇除稅率後但能見到iPhone加價的現象很普遍。譬如,iPhone 5在內地賣RMB¥5288、¥6088、¥6888,比香港還貴,當然當中有17%的增值稅,但撇除此因素再兌換成美元仍是USD$720、$820、$920,也只是與港版相若。台灣版本iPhone售價為NT$21900、$25500、$28900,約為USD$740、$860、$880。加拿大版本的iPhone售價為CAD$699、$799、$899,也就是USD$720、$820、$920,亦與港版相若。

眾所周知,蘋果業績的最大動力來自大中華地區,中國銷售增長最快,並緊隨美國成為蘋果最二大市場,此亦意味著中國地區佔整體銷售額比例有所提高。在加價情況下,平均售價不變,指出一個事實:低階版本iPhone 4銷量強勁,佔比持續提升,高階版本iPhone 5 32GB/64GB愈來愈賣不出去。

事實上,庫克自己也提到,iPhone 4整季缺貨,而iPhone 5只是大部分時間缺貨而已:

We were very constrained for much of the quarter on iPhone 5. As we began to produce more and ship more, sales went up with the production. iPhone 4 was actually in constraint for the entire quarter, and sales remained strong, and so that’s how sales progressed across the quarter.

其實,庫克的話間接驗証了筆者以上的推論,同時證明了低階智能手機有發展空間,側面暗示出低價iPhone的可能性,比起前面模稜兩可的那段話,暗示性更要強些。

前車可鑑:iPod與iPad系列

蘋果之前兩次前言不對後語,都出在為已有產品系列推出低價版本上,一是iPod,二是iPad,兩者的共通點是等到市場逐漸飽和時,再推出低價產品刺激市場,閹割功能,削弱性能,同時縮小體積。蘋果是以螢幕、體積、容量、功能、性能作為市場劃分。

蘋果2001年底推出iPod/iPod Classic,之後到2004年再推出iPod mini,之後陸續推iPod shuffle、iPod nano,以至iPod touch。當年iPod mini比iPod Classic螢屏更小,體積更小,之後iPod shuffle更小巧、容量更低,但就更便宜。

同樣地,第一代iPad在2010年頭推出,如今到2012年尾推出iPad mini,兩者差距在於iPad mini體積更小,螢幕更小,規格更弱,售價更低。

有過往個案,iPhone推出低價版本完全合乎情理,問題是iPod和iPad的情況都表示,低價iPhone「應該」螢幕更小、體積更小、規格更弱才對,但如此似乎不合乎市場潮流大勢,這怎麼可能呢?

專利文件:無前置鏡頭無Home鍵

幸好,最新流出的專利文件為我們提供了答案:低價iPhone無前置鏡頭,亦無Home鍵,螢幕佔據了手機正面幾乎全部面積。專利文件提到更多的是拍攝技術,以及對鏡頭的保護層。此設計令iPhone更輕巧,面積更小但螢幕可以維持本來的3.5/4寸,同時閹割前置鏡頭和Home鍵,可以想像其他功能亦有刪減,性能可能回到iPhone 3Gs的水平,幾乎肯定容量會縮水……

熟悉蘋果專利的話應該知道,蘋果註冊專利不代表蘋果馬上會採用,甚至會否採用也是未知之數。該上述專利正是2012年2月提出的,到了2013年1月才批准,如果蘋果是要今年推出低價iPhone的話,應該早已設計完成,等不及上述專利獲批。此項專利,對於蘋果,只是錦上添花。

另一個問題是,目前的工藝技術似乎不足以製造上下左右都如此窄邊框的手機。如果有的話,理應已在市場見到,至少強調窄邊框的魅族MX2,就做不出上下如此窄的邊框。當然,不能排除其他公司想不出如此設計,或者不願意投資在這樣的設計中。

假設設計和技術問題都不存在,那麼剩下的問題只有:應何時推出低價iPhone?

智能手機市場格局

在任何市場任何產品,時機(Timing)永遠最重要。想要回答以上問題,不妨留意一下智能手機(smartphone)的市場格局。

此處不得不引用三星電子季度業績的一段話:

Emerging Markets, a Silver Lining: The furious growth spurt seen in the global smartphone market last year is expected to be pacified by intensifying price competition compounded by a slew of new products. In the first quarter, demand for smartphones in developed countries is expected to decelerate, while their emerging counterparts will see their markets escalate with the introduction of more affordable smartphones and a bigger appetite for tablet PCs throughout the year. (新興市場,一場及時雨:去年全球智能手機的強勁增長,今年將因為價格競爭加劇而抵銷。發達國家首季智能手機需求預期將會減速;但隨著價格實惠智能手機的引進,以及對平板電腦胃納增加,將使發展中國家市場擴張。)

無獨有偶,蘋果諾基亞亦對第一季度的情況比較悲觀,這一方面是由於季節性因素,另一方面是由於智能手機市場增長逐漸飽和,尤其是發達國家。

在發達國家,智能手機的普及率已經達到一個很高的比例,至少在香港,幾乎是人手一部,甚至有些香港人,有一部以上的智能手機。由功能手機(feature phone)轉至智能手機,換機理由會較充裕,因為差異較大,至少智能手機可以裝Whatsapp和Youtube了。但由舊款智能手機轉至新款,就未免有太強烈的升級意欲,尤其是iPhone 4以及4S本身體驗已經非常流暢(如果不勉強升級至iOS 6的話),升級的變化幾乎沒有,外觀除了拉長沒有分別,升級意欲大大減低,與當年由iPhone 3Gs升級至iPhone 4,不可同日而語。在發達國家已經有很多人擁有智能手機,而換機意欲又不高,增長放緩絕對可以理解。

身邊有朋友由功能手機轉至智能手機,選的不是iPhone 5,而是iPhone 4S。她說,iPhone 4S已經夠用,她也買了iPhone 5,但隨即就到先達放售了。這反映出個人電腦市場已經出現一段時間的另一個問題:效能過剩。iPhone 4S比起iPhone 4快很多,iPhone 5又比iPhone 4S快很多,但這有意義嗎?當iPhone 4已經非常流暢,還需要更高一級的硬件和效能嗎?如今硬件發展異常的快,一年前的硬件,和一年之後已經有很大的差距,硬件軍備競賽(尤其是Android廠商),在效能早已過剩的情況下,除了炫耀以及快丁點兒的快感,還剩下甚麼價值?智能手機用五年時間,走完個人電腦十年的路。效能過剩以後,人們換機意欲日漸消沉,個人電腦市場從此一蹶不振,智能手機也將走上同樣的路,直至新的革命產生。

不過,情況未至於太過悲觀,就如三星電子所言,智能手機未來的增長主要動力來算發展中國家,蘋果庫克到訪中國,多少也顯示出對中國市場的重視。但發展國中國家也有問題,就是當地人收入不高,消費能力遠低於發達國家。一部USD$649的iPhone,對於發達國家消費者而言只是月薪的幾分之一,但對於發展中國家而言卻是月薪的幾倍甚至幾十倍,幾個月不吃不喝也買不起一部iPhone,所以在中國才會出現賣腎買iPhone事件。

要打入發展中國家市場,三星的應對方法是引入更實惠的機款,蘋果呢?在蘋果面前是兩條路,一是維持高價,擁抱極高利潤率,但放棄市場份額以及長遠增長空間;二是推出低價iPhone,以較低利潤率搶佔市場份額,尤其是發展中國家,確保長遠發展空間。

回到上面的問題,應該何時推出低價iPhone?答案是愈快愈好。因為低價智能手機,早已蔚然成風。根據IDC,在2012年第四季度,來自中國的華為和中興,進佔了全球智能手機廠商的首五位,其銷量分別增長90%以及48%,遠比蘋果的29%為低。當然,中國廠商是以低價擴大規模的方式,換取更低的生產成本,盈利能力與蘋果無法相提並論,但當年的三星,何嘗不是以低價換取銷量?事實上,智能手機市場價格競爭白熱化,正是由這些來自中國、擁有相對低成本的廠商發起。時至今日,華為和中興的智能手機已遍布世界各地,聯想集團正搶攻東南亞,小米和魅族正以香港作為國際舞台的踏腳石……

蘋果的包袱

庫克與華爾街,兩者之間,存在微炒的關係。庫克不是喬布斯,不能夠橫眉冷對千夫指,所作出的決定,一定程度上受到華爾街的影響,尤其是資本市場逼令上市公司每季都要交出佳績,業績不及預期便要面臨股價急瀉的壓力,所以庫克一直很努力擠出蘋果產品最後一點的盈利能力。

為了賺更多錢讓iPhone加價,喬布斯是不屑這樣做的,他只會讓價格不變,但就加入更多功能。喬布斯是不屑於7寸平板電腦的,7寸平板電腦要用紗紙磨滑手指頭才能按到,但庫克每季都要衝業績,iPad mini就順理成章了。蘋果換了領導者,也改變了質地,變得有點短視,變成一間被市場牽著鼻子走的公司。華爾街關心的是,iPhone低價版本會蠶食iPhone高價市場嗎?會影響蘋果的利潤率嗎?答案是會,但是問題不算太嚴重,因為積少成多照樣可以帶動利潤率上升,而且蘋果必定大幅閹割iPhone功能,變相成本會較高價iPhone為低,影響不算太大。但利潤率要受壓,卻也無可避免。

蘋果推低價iPhone,頗有走回頭路的感覺。蘋果的包袱在於,推出低價iPhone之後,怎樣面對以前高價買iPhone的消費者?當然,低價iPhone在功能上一定有閹割,在性能上一定會削弱,但對於早感到效能過剩的消費者而言,仍然會難過,所以閹割低價iPhone,要做得更狠一點……

蘋果的另一更大的包袱在於供應。蘋果的號召力無人會質疑,其利亦其弊,人們對蘋果產品的擁戴,卻會給蘋果壓力──供應鏈以及生產壓力。三軍未動,糧草先行,蘋果要推低價iPhone,必要先大量在市場採購零部件,同時委託OEM廠商,大多是富士康母公司鴻海,進行生產,通常在產品推出當月正式生產。問題是,目前iPhone生產產能已經不足,iPhone長時間缺貨,尤其是iPhone 4,一旦正式推出,蘋果的供應鏈和OEM產能能應付嗎?如果不能的話,長期缺貨這個蘋果長久以來的弱點將再一次困擾這間巨型的商業機械。

此外,蘋果過往幾年的產品周期一直都是每年將產品更新一次,無論是iPod、iPhone還是iPad。直至去年,蘋果首次在一年之內,推出兩款iPad,而兩款iPad大同小異,只是更換處理器和Lightning連接線,結果令果粉大跌眼鏡,再次感到蘋果開始變質。此「定律」的威力猶在,令蘋果不敢太快推出新iPhone。

所以,蘋果馬上就應該推出iPhone低價版,但現實是蘋果要面對諸多制肘和包袱,要短期推出也不容易。

Categories: Finance, iOS, Mobile

Apple Inc AAPL Q1 2013 Earnings Call Transcript

January 28, 2013 Leave a comment

Transcript Call Date 01/23/2013
Operator: Katy Huberty, Morgan Stanley.

Kathryn Huberty – Morgan Stanley: It’s clear that iPhone 5 did incredibly well in the U.S. based on the carryover report to-date, but international sell-through data points have been more mixed, how would you characterize trends outside the U.S. for iPhone and are you confident that you have all the right price points and screen sizes to fully capture the non-U.S. demand for iPhone specifically?

Tim Cook – CEO: Katy, it’s Tim. As Peter said, sequentially we increased over 70% from the September quarter, which was 3.5 times market. So we could not be happier with that. In terms of the geographic distribution, we’d saw our highest growth in China and it was into the triple-digits, which was higher than the market there and so I would characterize it as we’re extremely pleased.

Kathryn Huberty – Morgan Stanley: Then maybe a question for Peter, with a such large cash generation again this quarter and confidence in the product pipeline, you made those comments and a stock price that is off at highs, why not step up and buy back even more stock than you had originally planned at this point?

Peter Oppenheimer – SVP and CFO: Sure. This is something that we continuously assess. The opportunities to both invest in the business and return cash. We’re pleased to have started our share repurchase program this quarter and combined with our dividend, we returned about $4.5 billion of cash this quarter and we started the buyback program and expect to return about $45 billion over three years to our shareholders. We do consider increasing these programs and we’ll do what we think is in the best interest of our shareholders.
Operator: Bill Shope, Goldman Sachs.

Bill Shope – Goldman Sachs: Kathy had eluded to this many of your smartphone competitors are now focusing on differentiating themselves with larger screen sizes than that of the iPhone 5 in your predecessor products, I mean how do you think about the competitive dynamics for the market right now, in that respect do you think that’s a valid point of differentiation? Do you think there is a long-term case for a larger screen size or at least the larger variety of screen sizes for iPhones and for the smartphone category in general?

Tim Cook – CEO: Bill, its Tim. The iPhone 5 offers as you know a new 4-inch Retina display which is the most advanced display in the industry, and no one comes close to matching the level of quality as the Retina display. It also provides a larger screen size for iPhone customers without sacrificing the one-headed ease-of-use that our customers love. So, we put a lot of thinking into screen size and believe we picked the right one.

Bill Shope – Goldman Sachs: I guess, and then shifting on to the question on iPhone demand, obviously you saw healthy growth in the key categories this quarter. Then in the context of your guidance, can you give us some color about how you’re viewing in-demand trends for the iPhone coming out of the December quarter and how that compares to what you consider to be normal seasonality at this point in the product cycle? And also, did you see any meaningful deterioration in iPhone demand at the end of the December quarter or thus far in the March quarter that would lend credence to some near-term conservatism?

Tim Cook – CEO: Bill, let me take the second half of that and then I’ll hand it back to Peter for the first half. If you look at the iPhone sales across the quarter, we were very constrained for much of the quarter on iPhone 5. As we began to produce more and ship more, sales went up with the production. iPhone 4 was actually in constraint for the entire quarter, and sales remained strong, and so that’s how sales progressed across the quarter. I’ll let Peter talk about the guidance.

Peter Oppenheimer – SVP and CFO: So, Bill, for iPhone, as we told you last year, we built about 2.6 million units of channel inventory in the March quarter which allowed us at that time to get into our four-to-six-week inventory target. So, the underlying sell-through was about 32.5 million, and we would expect sell-through growth year-over-year as it has for – in the quarter, as it has for many quarters in a row.

Tim Cook – CEO: Bill, let me make one additional point on this. I know there’s been lots of rumors about order cuts and so forth, and so let me just take a moment to make a comment on this. I don’t want to comment on any particular rumor because I would – in my life doing that, but I would suggest it’s good to question the accuracy of any kind of rumor about build plans, and also stress that even if a particular data point were factual, it would be impossible to accurately interpret the data point as to what it meant for our overall business, because the supply chain is very complex and we obviously have multiple sources for things, yields might vary, supplier performance can vary, the beginning inventory positions can vary, I mean, there’s just an ordinate long list of things that would make any single data point not a great proxy for what’s going on.

Operator: Toni Sacconaghi, Sanford Bernstein

Toni Sacconaghi – Sanford Bernstein: I just wanted to make sure that I fully understand your comments about guidance, in the new guidance range that you’re providing. Are you effectively saying that when you provided guidance before, it was uniquely conservative and that level of conservatism no longer exists? We’re actually getting the real planning range for Apple and that this is fundamentally different from how you approached and provided guidance?

Peter Oppenheimer – SVP and CFO: Tony, it’s Peter. In the past we provided a single-point estimate of guidance that was conservative, that we had reasonable confidence in achieving. This quarter and going forward we’re going to provide a range of guidance that we believe that we’re likely to report within. No guarantee as forecasting is difficult, but we believe that we will report within that range.

Toni Sacconaghi – Sanford Bernstein: So, I’m just comparing the word so you think you’ll report in the range before or are you — I think on average it clips to your guidance on EPS by 35%, was the guidance before something that you felt reasonably confident in achieving or was there an implicit buffer in there because I’m trying to reconcile the fact that you said you thought it was reasonable before, but your historical president was you eclipsed it enormously on an ongoing basis and this time you’re saying there is a likelihood of falling within the range and I want to understand the distinction?

Peter Oppenheimer – SVP and CFO: I’ll go through it again. In the past, we gave you a single-point estimate of guidance that was conservative, that we had as reasonable confidence as you can that we would achieve. We’re now providing you a range of guidance that we expect to as best we can report within.

Toni Sacconaghi – Sanford Bernstein: Then if I could follow-up, Tim you started the call talking about Apple’s philosophy of really ensuring that you satisfy your customers and making great products. Against that backdrop how important is market share preservation, this quarter you held share maybe increased it fractionally on a year-over-year basis in the global smartphone market, but clearly you had an exciting new product. Is holding share in the smartphone market in 2013 a priority for Apple, yes or no, and why, and realistically, how does Apple hold share given that the market segment that – and price point that you play in is expected to grow a lot slower and you have pretty dominant share in that high-end?

Tim Cook – CEO: Toni, the most important thing to Apple is to make the best products in the world that enrich customers’ lives. That’s our high order bid. That means that we aren’t interested in revenue for revenue’s sake. We could put the Apple brand in a lot of things and sell a lot more stuff, but that’s not what we’re here for. We want to make only the best products. And so what does that mean for market share? We’ve been able to do that, and I think we’ve had a great track record here on iPod of doing different products at different price points and getting a reasonable share for doing that. And so, one doesn’t – I wouldn’t view these things as mutually exclusive as some might. But the high-order bid is making a great product that enriches customers’ lives. And so, that’s what we’re focused on.

Operator: Ben Reitzes, Barclays.

Ben Reitzes – Barclays: First question is with regard to Macs. Could you talk a little bit more about what happened? And it would seem that the shortfall there is well over $1 billion in the quarter, maybe even as much as a $1.5 billion, and how much of that was pushed into the March quarter within that new March guidance?

Tim Cook – CEO: Ben, it’s Tim. Thanks for asking that question; I wanted to talk about this. If you look – I think the best way to answer this is, if you look at the previous year, our Mac sales were about 5.2 million. This year they were 4 and so the difference is 1.1. So, let me try to bridge that. iMacs were down by 700,000 units year-over-year. As you remember, we announced the new iMacs late in October and when we announced those, we announced that they would ship the first one, the 21.5-inch would ship in November and we did ship it at the end of November. We announced that the 27-inch would ship in December and we did ship that in mid-December and so there were limited weeks of ramping on these products during the quarter. We left the quarter with significant constraints on the iMac and we believe we know that our sales would have been materially higher if those constraints would not have exist. We tried to tell people this on the conference call in October, I think I said that we would have significant constraints on iMac and so – but I recognize to some folks who may be surprised. Number two, if you look at last year as Peter went through in his opening comments we had 14-weeks in the quarter. We have 13-weeks in the quarter this year. Last year in the average week we sold 370,000 Macs. The third part of the bridge here would be that our channel inventory was down from the beginning of the quarter by over a 100,000 units and that’s because obviously we didn’t have the iMacs and channel inventory, it was in significant constrain. So if you just take these three factors they bridge more than the difference of between this year’s sales and last year’s sales. Now, in addition to these three points, I would point out two other things and these are lesser things than the total of these other three obviously. One, the market for PCs is weak. IDC’s last estimate I believe was around negative 6%. Two, we sold 23 million iPads and we obviously could have sold more than this because we could not build enough iPad mini’s to come into a demand balance. So, we’ve always said there was some cannibalization there I’m sure there were some cannibalization of Macs there. But the three large factors of the aggregated, total of the three large the iMacs the difference in seven days of the previous year having seven extra days in the channel inventory I think more than explains the difference between this year and the previous year. As a side note, if you looked at our portables alone they were in line with IDC’s projections of market growth.

Ben Reitzes – Barclays: Then just my follow-up is with regard to web services, online services there’s been a lot of publicity around Maps and can you give us an update there? Then looking forward how does the year look in terms of innovation in terms of iOS 7 and your online and web services how will that drive Apple?

Peter Oppenheimer – SVP and CFO: Let me start with the second part of this. We are working on some incredible stuff. The pipeline is (chalk) full. I don’t want to comment about a specific product, but we feel great about what we’ve got in store. In terms of Maps, we’ve made a number of improvements to map since the introduction of iOS 6 back in September and we’ll roll out even more improvements across the rest of the year and we’re going to keep working on this as I’ve said before until it lives up to our incredibly high standards. Users can already see many of these improvements because they include things like improved satellite and (flyer) imagery, with categorization in improved local information for thousands of businesses and so forth. The usage in Maps is significantly higher than it was prior to iOS 6. In terms of other services, we feel fantastic about how we’re doing. In Notification Center, we’ve now sent over 4 trillion notifications. This is mind-blowing. As Peter mentioned in his opening comments, for iMessage we’ve now sent over 450 billion and are currently sending now over 2 billion per day. With Game Center, we’ve got over 200 million registered users. We have 800,000 apps on the App Store with over 40 billion downloads. And so, I feel really, really great about it. There’s obviously more stuff we can do and you can bet we’re thinking about all of it.

Operator: Steve Milunovich, UBS.

Steven Milunovich – UBS Securities: Could you review your comments about gross margin in the quarter and also looking ahead perhaps commenting on a few areas; first of all, where you are on your product cost curve relative to where you expected to be? And then, also any comments on mix; within the iPhone line in terms of 5 versus 4S, amount of storage? And then also on the iPad; last quarter you said you really didn’t know what the proportion of Minis would be. Can you make any comments in terms of the demand for Mini relative to what you expected?

Peter Oppenheimer – SVP and CFO: Sure, Steve. It’s Peter. I’ll start. I’ll make a comment on Mini, go through gross margin, and maybe Tim can pick up on some of your iPhone questions. With the iPad mini, it’s hard to know. We could not make enough in the quarter. We were constrained every week. Customers love the Mini and we wish that we could have made more and we ended the quarter with significant backlog. For the gross margin in the December quarter, we were about 260 basis points ahead of our guidance. About half this difference was driven by lower product and transitory cost and we had reflected in our guidance, and the rest came from a higher mix of iPhones, a weaker dollar, and leverage on the higher revenue. As we look forward, we think the gross margin will be somewhere between about 10 basis points and 110 basis points lower sequentially. We believe that there are two primary factors that will benefit gross margin sequentially. First and the largest of the two, our teams have made meaningful progress in reductions in product and transitory costs from the actions that they’ve been working on to get down the cost curve, so we expect to benefit in the March quarter beyond what we saw in the December quarter. And second, we expect a more typical level of deferred revenue from device sales. We expect these factors to be more than offset by 10 to a 120 basis points by the loss of leverage coming out of the December quarter, which is very typical for us, and a different mix of our current products. Regarding mix, as an example, as we indicated the last quarter, the iPad mini gross margin is significantly below the corporate average and we expect to be able to meet demand for this product in the March quarter, which again we could not in the December quarter.

Tim Cook – CEO: Steve, I’ll make some comments on mix. If you look – your question on iPhone mix; let me bring up three points. One, the ASP for iPhone was essentially the same year-over-year in the quarter that we just finished. Underneath that if you looked at the mix of iPhone 5 to total iPhone and then in the previous year you look at 4S to total iPhones towards the top iPhone those mixes are similar. Then thirdly I think you asked about capacities in Q1 we saw similar results as we saw in Q1 of the previous year. So does that answer your question on mix?

Steven Milunovich – UBS Securities: Yes, it does. Then second question would be on CapEx, you spend almost as much as Intel does. I think you guys have said, you’re not going to become vertically integrated per se, but in a sense you are since most of that I assume is buying equipment for your partners. Could you talk about the strategy here and how much of a differentiated this gives Apple in terms of your ability to ramp new products over time and maybe a little bit more about how deep you will you go in terms of semiconductor componentry etcetera?

Peter Oppenheimer – SVP and CFO: We expect to spend about $10 billion in CapEx this fiscal year that will be up little under $2 billion year-over-year. We expect to spend a little bit under $1 billion in retail stores and the other $9 billion is spent in a variety of areas. We’re buying equipment that we will own that we will put in our partners facilities. Our primary motivation there is for a supply, but we get other benefits as well. We’re also adding to our data center capabilities to support all the services that Tim spoke about in answering Ben’s question and in facilities and in infrastructure. So, that’s where the capital is going.
Operator: Shannon Cross, Cross Research Group.

Shannon Cross – Cross Research: Tim, can you talk a bit about what happened last year in terms of the refresh cycle, where you had about 80% of your revenue refreshed in the last few months? And then how you’re thinking about this year? I mean, I know you said you ship products when they’re ready, but I mean is this a situation where you’re going to try to stagger it out a little bit this year, or will it be sort of a similar situation to 2012?

Tim Cook – CEO: It’s a question I won’t answer, Shannon, but the 80% was an unusually high percentage for us. I don’t know exactly what the historic numbers on that, but I can tell you that the number of RAMS were unprecedented in the fact that we had new products in every category – is something we have not done before. We feel great to have delivered 70 products for the holiday season though, and our customers have certainly expressed joy over it.

Shannon Cross – Cross Research: And then I guess can you talk a bit more about China? You provided which is great; you’ve broken out the Greater China revenue. But can you talk about what you’re hearing from customers and from some of your partners there; your thoughts on retail distribution and expansion, and just sort of overall what you’re seeing over – what you saw over the holiday period, and then, what you sort of expect from China going forward?

Tim Cook – CEO: Yeah, if you look at our total Greater China, which would include our retail stores that are in China, our revenues were $7.3 billion in the quarter. So, this is incredibly high, it’s up over 60% year-on-year. And again, that’s comparing 13 to 14 weeks, and so it’s really the underlying growth is higher than that. We saw exceptional growth in iPhones into the triple digits. iPad, we shipped iPad very late in the quarter in December and despite that saw a very nice growth. We are expanding in Apple retail there. In the year ago quarter, we had six stores, we now have 11. We obviously have many more to open there and our premium resellers, we went over 400, up from a little over 200 in the previous year and we increased iPhone point of sales from 7,000 to over 17,000 there. Now, this isn’t nearly what we need and it’s not the final by any means. We’re not even close to that, but we’re making – I feel that we’re making great progress. I was just over there recently and talking to a lot of different people. I am very happy with how things are going.

Peter Oppenheimer – SVP and CFO: It’s clear that China, it’s already our second largest region as you can see from the data that we’ve given you and it’s clear there’s a lot of potential there.

Operator: Gene Munster, Piper Jaffray.

Gene Munster – Piper Jaffray: Tim, you made comment in the past that Apple TV experience is (indiscernible) and Apple wants to fix that problem. If we can take a step outside of the form factor debate whether it’s a box or – can you just talk on high-level how important this market is to Apple, number one? Number two is, can you accomplish what you ultimately want to accomplish with the reality of where is content is today and how content is distributed?

Tim Cook – CEO: Gene you’re asking me all the questions that I don’t want to answer, but let me sit back and find some comments to make this productive. In terms of the product that we sell today the Apple TV we sold more last quarter than we’ve ever sold before, eclipsing 2 million during the quarter. It was up almost 60% year-on-year and so there is actually very, very good growth in that product. And what was the small niche at one time of people that loved it is a much larger number that love it. I have said in the past this is an area of intense interest for us, and it remains that and I tend to believe that there is a lot we can contribute in this space, and so we continue to pull the string and see where it leads us. But I don’t want to be more specific…

Gene Munster – Piper Jaffray: Just a housekeeping for Peter; Peter you gave gross margin guidance this quarter, but no EPS guidance, is there anything any moving parts between the gross margin and the operating line that we should be aware of that might have account that nuances in how you’re giving guidance?

Peter Oppenheimer – SVP and CFO: No, Gene. Our prior method of providing guidance was a point estimate for each line item of the P&L, including EPS and our guidance for the March quarter and how we will give guidance in the future, we’re going to give a range for revenue, for gross margin and for OpEx and therefore there are many possibilities for EPS within the range, that we’ll leave you to think through and we’ll report our actual results for March to you in April.

Operator: Keith Bachman, Bank of Montreal.

Keith Bachman – Bank of Montreal: The first one is, Tim, could you talk a little bit about the data, even if anecdotal, on how iPhone sales proceeded in terms of new customers versus upgrades and how that compared to, say, if you go to the 4S last year?

Tim Cook – CEO: I don’t have those specific numbers in front of me, but the iPhone 5, obviously with the numbers that we’re selling and selling to a lot of new customers.

Keith Bachman – Bank of Montreal: Okay, because we’d had heard feedback that there was a lot more of an upgrade cycle to existing customers, but it sounds like that’s not a statement that you would agree with?

Tim Cook – CEO: I don’t know who you were talking to, and so, again, this is one of those things I would caution on using as a proxy for the world. There are many carriers created differently.

Keith Bachman – Bank of Montreal: Well, let me turn to my next question then. Peter, as we think about the March quarter, I’m a bit confused how to think about iPads. And you mentioned that iPad mini was constrained. Any kind of comments on what seasonality would be, and more importantly, how are you thinking about the aggregate amount of inventory that’s in the channel for iPads? Will that amount increase, decrease, or stay the same as we reflect on how to model units in the March quarter?

Tim Cook – CEO: Keith, it’s Tim. Let me make a couple of comments. iPad mini was very constrained. We ended with underneath our target channel inventory range which Peter had commented earlier. We believe that we can achieve supply-demand balance on iPad mini later this quarter. That would likely mean that we would need more units in the channel than we have today. I think that would be a fair conclusion to draw.

Peter Oppenheimer – SVP and CFO: Keith, I’ll add to that. For total iPad sales, we don’t provide a sub-level forecast, but we would expect a large year-over-year increase in iPad sales, but a post-holiday sequential decline for iPad sales, which I think is typical. As Tim said, we expect to be able to meet demand for the mini.

Tim Cook – CEO: Keith, it’s probably worth pointing out just to be totally clear, for the last quarter, we had strong sales of iPad and iPad mini.

Operator: Scott Craig, Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Scott Craig – Bank of America Merrill Lynch: Tim, can you maybe discuss the tablet market a little bit in relation to Macs and other PCs and sort of how you are thinking about the cannibalization of that market for the iPad relative to the PC market? Then secondly, typically could you sort of talk about some of the component constraints and you certainly talked about iPhone 4 being constrained than the iPad mini et cetera. So as you enter into the quarter where do you see the challenges for meeting demand for the calendar first quarter?

Tim Cook – CEO: Sure, let me take the second part of that first. I think overall our team did just a fantastic job ramping out record number of new products during the quarter. We did have significant shortages due to robust demand on both iPad mini and both models of the iMac that persisted the entire quarter, and we are still short of both of those today as a matter of fact. Additionally, supply of iPhone 5 was short to demand until late in the quarter and iPhone 4 was short for the entire quarter. We believe that we can achieve supply/demand balance on iPad mini during this quarter and on iPhone 4 during this quarter. On iMac we’re confident that we’re going to significantly increase the supply, but the demand tier is very strong and we’re not certain that we will achieve a supply/demand balance during the quarter. In terms of cannibalization and how we think about this, I see cannibalization as a huge opportunity for us. One, our based philosophy to never fee cannibalization, if we do somebody else will just cannibalize it and so we never fear it. We know that iPhone has cannibalized the My Pod business it doesn’t worry that it’s done that. We know that iPhone would cannibalize through Macs, that doesn’t worry us. On iPad in particular, we have the mother of all opportunities here, because the Windows market is much, much larger than the Mac market is, and I think it is clear that it’s already cannibalizing some and I think there’s a tremendous amount of more opportunity there. As you know I’ve said for two or three – actually three years now I believe that I believe the tablet market would be larger than the PC market at some point, I still believe that and you can see by the growth in tablets and the pressure on Pcs that those lines are beginning to converge. I think the other thing for us, maybe not for others, but for us if somebody who buys an iPad mini or an iPad and it’s their first Apple product we had great experience through the years of knowing that when somebody buys their first Apple product, that a percentage of these people wind up buying another type of Apple product. And so, if you remember, what we had termed the halo effect for some time with the iPod with the Mac, we’re very confident that that will happen and we’re seeing some evidence of that on the iPad as well. And so, I see cannibalization as a huge opportunity.

Operator: Mark Moskowitz, JPMorgan.

Mark Moskowitz – JPMorgan: Question, Tim, around the iPhone. Peter gave us some transparency around the qualitative sequential and year-over-year potential increases in the iPad for the March quarter. How should we think about the iPhone family, (so I think) in terms of year-over-year and quarter-over-quarter potential increases or decreases, and are there any sort of dynamics around slower pace of LTE rollouts by the network carriers having an impact?

Tim Cook – CEO: The thing to consider on iPhone, Mark, is that in the year ago quarter we built 2.6 million units of channel inventory because we did the – one reason was that we did the China launch in the March quarter instead of in the previous quarter. And so the underlying sell-through from the year ago quarter was (32.5). The sell-in was (35) as you can probably see on a sheet in front of you. And so, in thinking through the number of iPhones to predict, we looked at the (32.5) number as a baseline, and we clearly believe that we’re going to grow year-over-year, but I don’t want to be more specific than that because Peter has already given you some top level guidance and that’s how we guide in the aggregate instead of the product level.

Mark Moskowitz – JPMorgan: Then my follow-up is just around the pace of LTE build outs across the globe, either in Europe or parts of Asia has those slower than expected rollouts from the networks perspective, has that had any sort of impact you think on your iPhone sales philosophy and could that change over the next 12 months as you see LTE capacity become more available elsewhere?

Tim Cook – CEO: It’s a good question. Today we have 24 carriers around the world that provide LTE support for iPhone 5. Those are in countries like the U.S., Korea, the U.K., Germany, Canada, Japan, Australia and a few others. Next week, we are adding 36 more carriers for LTE support. These carriers will be in countries that we’re currently not supporting LTE. So, the LTE coverage now as of next week in Italy, Denmark, Finland, Switzerland, Philippines also several Middle Eastern countries and so if you look at the total of all of these and the incremental subscribers that are in these countries it’s over 300 million. So that’s the next range of LTE rollout and I’m pleased to tell you about today. Also, as you know, iPhone 5 also supports other ultrafast networks like HSPA+ with downloads up to 42 mbs, which is three times the speed of the iPhone for us. So, we feel very good about the situation that we’re in, particularly with these adds next week.

Operator: Chris Whitmore, Deutsche Bank.

Chris Whitmore – Deutsche Bank: Just to follow-up on the iPhone question with respect to guidance just assuming there was some benefit from the Mac carryover effect in iPad release etcetera and adjusting for the inventory it seems you’re guiding to mid to high-single digit year-on-year unit growth for the iPhone business from the sell-through standpoint. Is that the right ballpark we should be thinking about and why the big deceleration from the 25% plus weekly sales rate you quoted in your intro comments?

Peter Oppenheimer – SVP and CFO: We are not going to talk about the guidance in a specific product level but let me give you some things we thought about in coming up with the range of $41 billion to $43 billion. That range is 5% to 10% year-over-year increase and there are a few factors that are impacting the year-over-year results, making the strong performance of the business a little bit harder so see. So, let me point a few of these out. First of all, as we talked about several times on the call last year in the March quarter we built 2.6 million units of iPhone channel inventory which allowed us to get into our four to six week range, that increased the revenue in the year ago quarter by $1.6 billion. As Tim talked about that was sell-in that was not sell-through, we’re thinking about the business on a sell-through basis, so don’t lose sight of the $1.6 billion. Second, the iPhone 5 roll out this year has been our fast as ever. We’re selling in 100 countries by the end of December. Last year we did not achieve this country distribution until the March quarter, which included China that we launched in January. Third, we made a very good strategic decision to introduce the iPad mini which customers love and to keep the price-reduced iPad 2 in the line. As a result of this, we saw a reduction in our iPad ASPs of about $101 year-over-year in the December quarter and you can see that our iPad units grew faster than our iPad revenue in the December quarter. We would expect iPad ASPs to be down quite a bit in the March quarter on a year-over-year basis for the same reasons. Then finally, the PC market grew 4% last year in the March quarter, and this year IDC is projecting that to decline by 3%. So, considering these factors the underlying performance of the business is much stronger than the 5% to 10% year-over-year growth implies and we remain very confident in our business and our new product pipeline.

Chris Whitmore – Deutsche Bank: For my follow-up, I wanted to come back to something Tim said earlier about not fearing cannibalization. I wanted to ask in context of your iPhone business, given the strength you’re seeing at the low-end of your product line, the iPhone 4 being stacked out during the quarter, there seems to be a lot of demand at lower price points for the iPhone. Why not get more aggressive at lower price bands and move down-market in the iPhone business?

Tim Cook – CEO: I’m not going to go into our pricing strategy, but we feel great about the opportunity of getting products to customers and a percentage of those buying other Apple products. We’ve obviously seen evidence of that through history and continue to see evidence of that today.

Nancy Paxton – IR: A replay of today’s call will be available for two weeks as a podcast on the iTunes Store, as a webcast on apple.com/investor, and via telephone, and the numbers for the telephone replay are 888-203-1112 or 719-457-0820. Please enter confirmation code 1474555. These replays will be available by approximately 5.30 PM Pacific Time today. Members of the press with additional questions can contact Steve Dowling at 408-974-1896 and financial analysts can contact Joan Hoover or me with additional questions. Joan is at 408-974-4570, and I’m at 408-974-5420. Thanks again for joining us.

Operator: Ladies and gentlemen, that does conclude today’s presentation. We do thank everyone for your participation.

Categories: iOS, Mobile

蘋果季績詳解(2012Q4)

January 24, 2013 2 comments

蘋果公司今日凌晨公布的季度業績,除了受到科技界關注外,亦是投資市場的焦點。作為全世界市值最高的公司,蘋果季度收入以及利潤均再創歷史新高,iPhone及iPad銷量亦有顯著增長。

但由於剛公布的業績不及預期,所以蘋果股價在場外交易時段下挫超過一成,跌至接近450美元。憂慮蘋果業績放緩,蘋果股價從去年9月開始進入下降周期,由高位700美元跌至最近約500美元,累計跌幅達三成。

增長依然,放緩必然

每次蘋果新產品發布的季度,蘋果業績都會增長。而在9月蘋果推出iPhone 5,又在10月推出iPad 4以及iPad mini,新產品帶動其收入較去年同期增長18%至545.12億美元。各項產品中,iPhone銷量增長29%至4778.9萬部;iPad銷量增長48%至2286萬台,均創下歷史新高。

既然蘋果產品銷量及收入都表現理想,為何股價仍會重挫呢?因為擔心蘋果增長放緩。

過往財務報表和左上圖的營業額變化可以看到,蘋果季度收入整體仍處於上升軌道當中,當然受季節因素影響,每年第四季度都顯著高於其他季度。補充一點,蘋果的年結在9月底,所以會稱9月至12月為「第一財季」,但下面一律改稱「第四季度」,以符合一般人對四季的認知。

但在左下圖的營業額增長率變化就看到,蘋果季度收入增長,不斷在減慢放緩,由去年第一季度的59%,放緩至第二及第三季度的23%及27%,第四季度再進一步放緩至18%。而在2011年,在第一、第三及第四季增長率都達到70%以上。按目前的趨勢推論,今個季度增長有機會放緩至單位數,今年之內甚麼可能出現倒退。

蘋果的iPhone和iPad銷量增長亦出現同樣的放緩情況。撇除個別季度消費者持幣觀望蘋果公布新一代產品,而令iPhone銷量積壓收縮,iPhone銷量增長在2011年其中三個季度都達到100%以上,但去年第一季度就放緩至88%,第二及第三季度放緩至28%及58%,第四季度再放緩至29%。iPad情況亦相似,2011年銷售增長率都達到100%,但2012年第二至四季就放緩至84%、26%以及48%。

事實上,蘋果的增長不可能永遠持續下去,因為蘋果已經富可敵國,其收入高於很多世界上的小國,而且在如此高的基數之下,即使銷售增量顯著,反映在百分比增幅上都會呈現放緩。譬如,兩年前iPhone季度銷量是1000萬部,只要再增加1000萬部增長率便達100%,但如今季度銷量達5000萬部,即使增長1000萬部也只是增長20%。高基數下增長放緩實無可避免。

作為對比,根據市場調查機構Gartner的資料,去年首三季度的全球智能手機銷量增長率分別為47%43%以及45%,大致增長維持在45%左右的水平,第四季度的調查仍未出爐,但相信亦有40%以上,而蘋果的iPhone銷量分別為88%、28%以及58%,第二季增長開始追不上整體市場增長,變相令市場份額下降,第三季發布iPhone 5回勇,但第四季增長只有29%,估計亦會「跑輸大市」。究其原因,智能手機銷量增加是因為價格愈來愈平民化,令更多人負擔得起,智能手機製造成本隨著規模增加而下降,在發展中國家出現低於100美元智能手機,在性能、功能和使用體驗上可以達到600美元以上iPhone的一半甚至更多,而價格僅是iPhone的六分之一甚至更低。蘋果採取精品路線,選擇捨棄規模和市場份額,而搶佔更多的利潤,銷量增長「跑輸大市」是必然的結果。

未來市場仍然會關注蘋果收入和產品銷量增長情況,到底是慢慢增長、維持持平、慢慢放緩,抑或是大幅放緩,與整體智能手機市場比較如何?目前仍未清楚,但對於敏感的資本市場而言,不同情況會帶來截然不同的結果。

成本大漲,毛利受壓

在收入和銷量增長放緩的同時,蘋果還要面對其他問題,就是收入上升的18%同時,利潤沒有跟隨,只是輕微增長0.11%,每股盈利更出現倒退0.43%,反映出成本增幅高於收入增幅,毛利率持續受壓。

一條簡單的公式:利潤增幅 = 收入增幅 – 成本增幅。

成本大幅上漲的主因為何?蘋果業績沒有詳細解釋,在財務報表列載的各項成本中,只能見到銷售成本(Cost of Sales)增加31%,達到334.52億美元,增幅遠高於18%的收入增幅,完全抵銷了收入增長的利好因素。研發費用和一般行政費用亦分別增長33%以及9%,但兩者合共只是38.5億美元,相對銷售成本只是小數目。

銷售成本一般包括生產產品的成本,主要就是iPhone、iPad的生產成本。去年第四季度商品價格沒有顯著回升,意味著成本壓力來自代工和芯片成本,產品設計和定位本身亦可能造成毛利率受壓。

近年鴻海富士康工人自殺、工作環境惡劣的報道,逼使蘋果提高工人福利,令製造成本上升。另一方面,全球智能手機和平板電腦市場爆炸,蘋果作為先行者在供應鏈上雖然有優勢,但各大廠商對平板電腦及手機零件的需求持續上升,零件價格上漲,令採購成本上漲。

此外,三星一直是蘋果最大供應商,蘋果亦是三星最大的客戶,每年供應蘋果所需內存芯片的40%,但蘋果與三星專利糾紛官司嚴重損害了兩者的關係。傳聞蘋果採購NAND記憶體時減少依賴三星,而漸進式增加東芝的採購量;在螢幕採購方面亦刻意迴避三星,而選擇LG、Sharp以及Japan Display。蘋果在軟件上去谷歌化,在硬件上去三星化,雖然具備戰略意義,但無可避免會加重成本,因為三星作為全球最大的螢幕和記憶體生產商,擁有無人能及的規模和價格優勢,轉向其他供應商勢必令成本上升。而且,對於蘋果減少依賴三星供應,有傳三星遂以加價應對,其對iPhone處理器加價20%,雖然三星予以否認,但不應排除三星在其他方面加價。

iPad mini

在右上圖中,可以看到2012年蘋果毛利率逐季下降,第一季度的47.4%是歷史高位,第二季和第三季回落至42.8%和40%,第四季進一步跌至38.6%,顯著低於去年同期44.7%,並且是蘋果過去兩年間,毛利率第一次跌穿四成。而今個季度,蘋果更預計毛利率會進一步下降,將介乎37.5%至38.5%之間。

毛利率計算收入與毛利的比例,而毛利等於收入減去成本。成本大漲固然構成毛利率受壓,而另一原因就是推出不足兩個月的iPad mini。

蘋果行政總裁庫克(Tim Cook)曾經提過,iPad mini的毛利率,顯著低於蘋果的其他產品。如果iPad mini「太」暢銷,就會令蘋果的整體毛利率受壓。今次毛利率跌穿40%,與iPad mini受歡迎不無關係。

直觀一點看,在蘋果Apple Store,iPad mini經常缺貨,而iPad的供應遠為充裕,間接證明iPad mini可能比iPad更受歡迎。當然蘋果的供應量亦有影響,iPad 4換芯不換款,可以繼續沿用舊有產品生產線,而iPad mini要另外設計生產線,iPad mini確實不如iPad供應充裕。

到底在iPad的2286萬台銷量當中,有多少是iPad,多少是iPad mini呢?雖然財務報表只提供iPad的整體銷量,沒有提供具體的數字,但不妨大膽推算一下。

比起iPhone的平均售價(ASP)過去一直維持在620至650美元之間,iPad的平均售價就一直呈現穩中下降的態勢。右圖顯示,由2011年第二季度的653美元開始,iPad的平均售價逐季下降,但整體上保持在530美元以上,直至上一季度,iPad mini推出令iPad的平均售價由535美元降至467美元,降幅達到13%。

眾所周知,不單上一代iPad,iPad系列有六個型號,因應不同容量,Wifi版本售價分別是499美元、599美元以及699美元,而Wifi+Cellular版本則是629美元、729美元以及829美元。而iPad平均售價不斷回落,過去幾季都是500多美元左右,反映Wifi 16GB版本最好賣,估計佔全部iPad銷量的三分之二以上。

而每一個版本的iPad mini,都比相應版本的iPad價格低上170美元,iPad mini Wifi 16GB版本售價329美元,較iPad售價499美元低170美元,如此類推。將iPad系列六個型號加總除以六,得出直接均價664美元,較實際均價535.05美元低129美元。如何理解這個數字?如果購買六個不同型號的人數相同,平均售價就會等如664美元;事實是平均售價是535.05元,證明買Wifi 16GB版本的人居多,大概是每一百個人之中,有超過七十個人會買最低規格版本,其他版本購買人數就相近,也就只有幾個人。

將iPad mini系列六個型號加總除以六,得出直接均價是494美元。假設第三和第四季度消費者購買iPad系列的結構一致,而第四季度所有人只買iPad mini,那麼iPad mini實際均價大概就是494美元減去129美元,即是365.05美元。而第四季度實際均價是467美元,介乎535.05美元和365.05美元之間,最接近的情況是六四比,iPad佔六成,iPad mini佔四成。即是季內iPad銷量為1372萬部,iPad mini銷量是914萬部,後者銷售額佔33.37億美元。

以上的估算數字十分不準確,因為第三季度不少人開始持幣觀望iPad mini的推出,這股購買力就在第四季度釋放,一定會改變購買結構。而且每逢蘋果推出真正的新產品,「第一水」都會受到蘋果擁躉支持,而且他們會傾向買價版本,變相拉高均價。

戰線擠擁,互相蠶食

不過如果認同以上推算,就會發現iPad第四季1372萬部的銷量,其實比起第三季1403.6萬部輕微下降,比起去年同期1543.4萬部更是按年減少11%。將iPad和iPad mini系列合計,整體iPad銷量必定是會增加,但單計iPad,銷量有所減少又實屬理所當然,因為不少人會覺得iPad過重,而iPad mini更輕薄更便攜,褲袋大些的話甚至可以放入褲袋,而且更便宜,確實會比iPad更符合部分消費者的需求。iPad mini會「搶走」一部分的iPad消費者,蠶食後者市場,是必然的結果。

事實上,蘋果產品,無論是功能或定價上,都有重疊的地方。功能上,由iPod touch到iPhone,由iPad mini到iPad,都是使用iOS系統,不過是在外觀尺寸不同,在硬件上有刪減,但無論你是用iPod touch、iPhone還是iPad mini,你都可以玩Temple Run或者Instagram。iPod touch/iPhone的iOS界面,與iPad mini/iPad界面有少許分別,但差異實際不大。iOS與Mac OS/OS X的差別就會大些,但是iPad與Mac同樣可以用到iWork編輯文件,兩個平台上還有很多功能相近的應用,例如Photoshop。

因此,iPhone蠶食iPod市場,iPad蠶食Mac市場,而iPad mini又會反過來蠶食iPad市場甚至iPhone市場。很多消費者由iPod以及Mac,轉移至iPhone以及iPad。有了iPhone,就不需要額外買一部iPod來聽歌;有了iPad作為娛樂、遊戲、影音之用,就不需要買Mac作同一用途,不過要繁鎖工作又另計。

你可能會質疑,除了新iPod系列推出的季度,iPod銷量的確逐季下降;但Mac銷量在個別季度是有所增長,與上述推論不符。事實上,Mac增長一方面是受到推出新Mac系列帶動,Macbook Pro with Retina Display就令不少人趨之若鶩;另一方面是iPhone/iPad帶來連鎖光環效應,令不少傳統PC用家都「轉會」試用Mac系統,因此PC市場銷量整體下降,但Mac就可以跑贏大市。iPad蠶食了少部Mac市場,但畢究兩者系統不同,分工比較明確,影響不算太大,但iPad就成功令其他Windows PC銷量下降,不少輕度消費者發現自己根本不需要PC作娛樂用途,一部iPad已經足夠。

不過,iPad mini的推出大大影響iPad的銷量,按上述推算,iPad銷量首次出現微降,iPad mini銷量就由零大增,這還是蘋果供應鏈追不上,iPad mini長期缺貨的結果。近期有報道稱,蘋果減少採購9.7吋的螢幕。值得留意的是,上季iPad mini正式開賣的時間只有兩個月,有一個月就只有iPad出售,而今季是iPad mini完整的銷售季度,幾乎肯定會繼續蠶食iPad市場,令整體iPad平均售價繼續下降。蘋果預計今季毛利率會由38.6%進一步下降,將介乎37.5%至38.5%之間,相信是考慮到iPad mini熱賣的因素。

考慮到iPad mini毛利率偏低,iPad mini雖然有助蘋果擴大市佔率,有助薄利多銷,並穩定在平板市場的戰線;但亦同時拖低蘋果毛利率,蠶食iPad市場,對蘋果的影響,其實好壞各有。

新產品新戰線

既然收入銷量增長放緩,市場競爭激烈、成本上升毛利下降,那麼蘋果的出路到底在何方呢?答案是新產品、新戰線。最近有不同的流言傳出,蘋果會推出iWatch、iTV,甚至iPhone平價版,蘋果新產品謠言無日無之,暫時姑且聽之吧!

不過,蘋果仍然是全球實力最強、市值最高的公司,沒有之一,坐擁富可敵國的現金,無論蘋果打算做甚麼,都會有足夠的彈藥。

Categories: Finance, iOS, Mobile

蘋果iPhone訂單減半?

January 15, 2013 Leave a comment

幾日前日經新聞和華爾街日報先後報道了蘋果將iPhone顯示面板的訂單數量減半,而隨後在36krifanr引述BGR作出反駁,主要是針對6500萬這個訂單數量。筆者同意BGR的部分論點,日經新聞忽略了iPod touch的訂單,同時也忽略了季節性因素帶來的影響,6500萬這個數字確實值得質疑。

不過,BGR針對的是6500萬的顯示面板訂單數量,報道的其他方面避而不談,似乎有失偏頗。蘋果大幅削減訂單是不爭的事實,因為日經報道詳細列舉了蘋果削減訂單對日本工廠的影響,Japan Display在日本石川縣能美市生產基地產能按季減少70%至80%,Sharp位於日本三重縣生產基地減少約40%產能,其他iPhone 5元件供應商包括Seiko Epson、村田製作所及TDK等都表示相關訂單已經減半。如果說顯示面板忽略了iPod touch尚說得通,但其他元件廠商的訂單同樣減半又如何解釋?這些細節很難作出反駁,因為實在太仔細了。

話說回來,蘋果削減訂單部分的原因是季節性因素這個說法沒有錯,聖延旺季完結,淡季來臨,銷量下跌很正常。去年的財報顯示2011Q4蘋果售出3704萬部iPhone,2012Q1略降至3510萬部,銷量按季減少不過5%,今年如果銷量減少50%,就屬於不正常了。不過,採購訂單減少並不代表銷量減少,因為兩者在時間上會有滯後,零件庫存會積存,先前訂得太多,今季減少訂單,實屬正常。

結論:蘋果iPhone銷量放緩是不爭的事實,不過訂單數據受到季節性因素影響,亦與蘋果的面板零件庫存水平有關,訂單減半是有點太過誇張,但的確反映銷售有不少的放緩。

P.S. 以上削減訂單,最快也要到2013Q1業績才會反映,蘋果本周公布的是2012Q4業績,應該是iPhone 5推出的首個完整季度,業績應該相當理想。[2013-1-21]

Categories: iOS, Mobile