Apple observers have had a very interesting couple of days. On Monday Steve Jobs announced his third leave of absence from the company and last night the company announced massive record profit levels. One drove the share price down and the other is likely to make it soar once again.
Apple COO, Tim Cook – taking over from Jobs – announced results for the final three months of 2010 to Wall Street analysts last night. Compared to the same period of 2009, net income almost doubled from $3.3 billion to $6 billion, overall sales rose from $15.68 billion to $26.7 billion. Apple sold 16.24 million iPhones, which is a whopping 86 percent increase over the same period in 2009 – and this in a year when Android overtook iOS in the market share of smartphone OSes. Apple’s market leading iPad sales totaled 7.33 million in its first year on the market but will surely face stiffer competition in 2011 as the Android and Windows devices slowly catch up.
However it seems as if Cook doen;t see much real competition for the iPad at the moment. On Windows' tablets: "They're big, heavy and expensive. Weak battery life. Need keyboard or stylus. From our point of view, customers aren't interested in that." On Android: "It's a "scaled-up smartphone" – that's a bizarre product in our view."
The only downside for Apple was a decline in sales of iPod devices compared to a year ago. In the three months to December 25, Apple sold 19.45 million iPods which as a seven percent decline. The Cupertino company’s results were well ahead of market estimates with sales up 71 percent. Cook told analysts: “We’re all very happy about our product pipeline,” adding that “the team here has a breadth and depth of innovation that Steve has built.”
While Cook may be positive in his outlook, the market’s view of Apple’s current position has been in flux over the past 24 hours. Following news of Jobs' leave of absence, the share price fell by as much as six percent, closing on Tuesday evening down 2.25 percent at $340.65. After-hours trading, on the strength of the Apple results, saw the share price rise to $344.90 which is a rise of 1.25 percent over its opening price on Tuesday morning. It is likely to go even higher today on the back of these results - though don't take our word for it.
What affect Steve Jobs absence will have, and the how long that absence will be, are questions the market are obviously mulling over but these results will no doubt bolster the company’s credentials for the coming year. 2011 is like any other set to be an important one for Apple with the iPad 2 and iPhone 5 on the horizon. To get some more insight, read our take on what Jobs’ absence from Apple will mean and let us know what affect you think it will have.