A funny thing happened along the way to 2017. Apple didn’t go out of business. Instead of floundering as critics expected, Apple set new revenue and iPhone sales records, sold more Macs and Watches than ever, and Services jumped. Again.
Seemingly months ago Apple’s many critics were calling for CEO Tim Cook’s head on a platter because AAPL iPhone, iPad, Mac, Watch, blah, and more blah were underperforming outlandish expectations. Yet, Apple delivered yet again and is poised in 2017– assuming new Macs and iPads along with iPhone 800 to have an even bigger year. Why?
The Stealth Engine
Without much attention, Apple has become the little engine that could and did become the world’s richest, wealthiest, and most prominent technology company, and day by day AAPL has become the little stock that could.
Actually, not much. Apple remains much like Apple has been under Tim Cook, yet notably different than Apple under co-founder Steve Jobs. Cook seems to know how to make money. Big money. Last quarter Apple brought in profits that topped Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and Samsung’s smartphone group. Combined. Apple is so wealthy it could buy France. Or, become a co-owner in Germany.
I did a quick check on AAPL’s performance over the past five years. The peak stock price was around $132 just over two years ago. Now AAPL is within dimes of that all time high stock price and with a market capitalization that flirts with $700-billion. Debt aside, Apple sits on nearly $200-billion in cash, and still manages to give away money hand over fist to investors with dividends, and the market as a whole with stock buybacks.
How on God’s little acre is any of that indicative of a company that is in trouble?
Here’s the problem. Apple is watched too closely. That’s because Apple, the company that seems to disdain marketshare and competitor’s product specifications, is not only the revenue and profit leader wherever it competes, it’s also the technology industry’s mindshare leader.
People don’t pay attention to news about Apple that is good. By nature, most news is negative, so anything that can be dreamed up about Apple– the negative perspective– is what you will read about. The reality is different. Just like the New England Patriots still have their players do sprints uphill– part of the conditioning that kept the team chugging while the Atlanta Falcons were sputtering in the second half– Apple does what it does they way it does it.
Do we want more powerful Macs at lower prices? Sure. Do we want an iPhone 8 with micro-bezel, a 4k screen and 8k camera? Sure. Does the iPad line need an overhaul? Ditto. But that’s how Apple rolls; to its own tune on its own schedule, and that gets reflected and deflected in the stock price every couple of years.
The only element of the past that Apple truly misses– and it has little to do with money or AAPL– is Steve Jobs’ whip; the one he used to get products out the door on his schedule. Tim Cook needs Steve Jobs’ whip.