The Loop’s Jim Dalrymple (aka “The Beard”) Addresses an Apple Rumor

For the first time in a while. And it’s a “nope”. Given The Beard’s perfect record – consider that rumor 100% debunked.

Why wasn’t WS all that upset, if they were even paying attention at all? Well, Sep. 6 is still a bit early for Fall. And an actual launch on Sep. 6 implies pre-ordering 10 days or so before the launch, which implies an Apple media event some days before that, which implies a media invite at least a few days to a week before that. Before you know it, we’re in mid-August or so with Apple media invite news.

Then there’s that whole “iOS 7 needs to get done and released a few days before the new iPhones” deal, too.

So maybe Dalrymple can “yep” more solid intel that might put the actual first-stage launch of the new iPhones more like mid/late September.

When Inferences Turn Into Fact

“The Samsung Galaxy S4 has sold well, but analysts worry the market might be saturated.”

Now the first half of that statement is very likely true. Samsung’s impressive (yet “disappointing”) YOY profit increase is most likely attributable in large part to a richer overall revenue mix of higher-margin smartphones, of which the S4 (series) is the clear flagship. But, y’know, Samsung’s been about as specific about Galaxy S4 unit sales lately as Amazon’s been with their Kindle/Kindle Fire sales.

What’s that? Amazon doesn’t give out Kindle unit sales? Exactly.

I guess reports of shipments (vs. company-supplied data on unit sales, sell-in, sell-through or otherwise) will have to do. And hey, 20 million shipped is a milestone of some kind, even if “shipped” doesn’t necessarily mean actually sold. A quick press release to mark the occasion would be fine as official company data…why stop at a media report of a Samsung executive confirming…another…media report?

Alas, _actual_ data on the S4 is quitedifficult to quantify without an apples-to-apples comparison. ¹ But hey, let’s give the multi-national $180B+ mega-conglomerate (and that’s just the electronics arm) the benefit of the doubt, shall we?

¹ Maybe a couple of you Apple/Samsung observers noticed what I did there.

Betting on Yourself: Apple “Expects the Stock Price to Climb”? Or Maybe Apple Just Knows a Good Deal When It Sees One

Brief commentary aside (and Ben Lovejoy’s point on Apple being bullish on share price is well-taken), the speed (quantity) of Apple’s buyback activity so far is really something else. As most of you recall, Apple has authorization to buy back $50B in shares. If Apple has the go-ahead to buy back over 100M shares (assuming an average per-share price of $500 or less), for it to have bought back over 35M shares so far (net diluted share reduction) makes one wonder exactly how many shares Apple will buy from say, mid-2014 until the end of calendar 2015. Unless Oppenheimer’s mention of “end of fiscal 2014” wasn’t an accident. At this point I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple bought back over 50M, maybe even 60M shares by the end of September (although they wouldn’t necessarily be all deducted against net diluted share count as of the end of Apple’s fiscal 2013).

And since I’m on the topic of buybacks, a quick note on Apple’s “cash” balance. ¹  Oppenheimer mentioned an imposing $106B overseas (i.e. can’t be used for buybacks), something like $144B in total cash as of the end of fiscal Q2, and a net increase in cash of close to $2B as of the end of fiscal Q3, against about $17B in bond financing debt.

Will Apple do another round of bond financing, will it use some of the $40B or so available domestically, or a combination of both? We’ll see.

Also somewhat interesting: The more quickly Apple meets its $50B quota (of course, it can always buy back the remainder of its allotment more slowly over the next several quarters), the more quickly Apple also reduces its total “dividend obligations”). So if the cash situation allows it, Apple can not only buy back 10% or more of the company relatively quickly, it can also cut dividend payments by the same amount, saving $3.05/share/quarter (or $12.20/yr at current rates) on all retired shares. Not a bad way to eventually save a billion or so a year…or, put another way, deploy that billion or so saved for any number of other uses. Ironically, given enough time, the dividend savings will “finance” the current buyback.

But maybe that’s a subject for another post…

¹ I’m going with Oppenheimer’s “version” of cash here. And if he says it’s cash, I’m assuming he means those assets that also be readily converted to cash (such as those securities holdings) if need be.