It Was a Very Pretty Good Decent Year Fiscal Quarter (All Things Considered)

Well, you’ve all seen the results by now. No need for me to recap the results, though I might post an earnings self-assessment later. (Though it’s easy enough for you to see how I did, in case I don’t.)

So just in terms of a little commentary:

– Oppenheimer means business with his new guidance methodology. It may well be that management expects actual results to hit the top end of guided revenues and net income (we still need more data points), but what is becoming clearer is that we shouldn’t expect Apple to beat revenues and net income top-end guidance as a matter of course. So far, it’s beat revenue range guidance once and net income range guidance never. A side benefit of the new methodology: Wall Street expectations are kept in check.

– Say hello to iPhone. That includes you, NTT DoCoMo, considering that iPhone somehow grew a highly impressive 66% YOY in Japan. Overall, unit sales exceeded the expectations of any analyst or independent who dared to make a projection.

– Sell-through data points. Awesome!

– Apple bought the dip. Big time. Luca Maestri must be helping to bring the share repurchasin’ heat.

– China continues to be a challenge for Apple (though it varies by geography – Greater/Mainland China saw growth, while Hong Kong didn’t).  As far as Mainland/Greater China, I wonder what the eventual rollout of LTE networks, a cheaper iPhone, or China Mobile will do in terms of iPhone.

– The iPad compare was thrown off, but in any case, it’s showing a strong case of seasonality, and I’m sure more than a few people pine for a 2048×1536 resolution iPad mini. 3% YOY sellthrough decline isn’t a disaster, but I’m far from ignoring it. Perhaps the tablet market is still a bit more like a media player than a handset in market size?

– Macs do seem to be more like trucks every year…although the entire MacBook Pro series is still in need of a refresh, and, well, there’s still many trucks sold in the world, whether they’re PCs or actual trucks.

– Nice to see gross margins stabilizing. Hopefully, that means less daunting prior-year compares going forward. Of course, a big question is whether a new form factor iPhone with older underlying tech and potentially lower gross margins will pull an “iPad mini” on the flagship iPhone, at least until the flagship’s “full redesign” anyway.***

– New iPhones would seem to be on the way based on Oppenheimer’s top-end revenue guidance increasing from $35.5B for fiscal Q3 2013 to $37B for the current fiscal Q4. It’s difficult to see Macs, last-refreshed-in-November iPads, or “even older” iPhones being responsible for that. I’m looking forward to the iOS harvest season.

***Margin stabilization seems to hint at iPhone 5S more than a fully redesigned “iPhone 6”.

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