The Macalope: Redefined

Writing for Reuters, Bill Rigby redefines the word “disappoint.”

“Apple’s results disappoint ahead of holiday quarter”

Are we talking about the same results?

Wait, are we talking about the same Apple?

Apple Inc’s profit and margins slid despite selling 33.8 million iPhones in its September quarter, and greater China revenue climbed just 6 percent even though two smartphone models hit store shelves in its second-largest market last month.

Whoa … hold on … the Macalope … phew, the Macalope’s a little dizzy from all that spinning. Man, that’s like the Tilt-A-Whirl of Apple quarterly results ledes. Let’s see if we can unpack some of it without vomiting hot dogs and caramel apples everywhere.

Yes, Apple’s profit and margins slid. Welcome to 2013. The company also beat most of the analysts’ estimates. Analysts’ estimates are what Apple has been said to “disappoint” for the past year, so the horny one guesses Rigby is moving the goal posts back some more because Apple.

See how this works? If Apple doesn’t beat analysts’ estimates then people rush out and say Apple “missed.” But when it does top those estimates, people don’t talk about that—they find some other thing to grouse about. Analyst estimates are the most important thing ever. Unless Apple beats them, in which case they never existed.

Finally, how many days were the new iPhones on sale last quarter? Oh, right, 11. iPhone sales were up a healthy 13 percent and iPad sales even rose a little, despite the fact that the year-ago quarter was the quarter after the release of a new iPad.

The unremarkable quarterly numbers prompted some disappointed investors to cash in recent gains in the stock, which slid 5 percent at one stage after-hours on Monday.

“At one stage.” In other words, let’s pick the low point and run with that. (As of this writing, Apple is down just one percent from where it closed on Monday, before results were released.)

Wall Street had hoped for a stronger beat on quarterly sales after the company predicted in September that its revenue and margins would come in at the high end of its own forecasts.

Which it did. So explain to the Macalope why Wall Street’s Ouija-board analysis is really worth paying attention to?

Chief Executive Tim Cook predicted a “really great” holiday season: a crucial time for Apple …

Apple is always on the ropes.

… as its new iPads go up against Amazon.com Inc’s Kindle Fire and its new iPhones compete with lower-cost gadgets made by Samsung Electronics and other rivals using Google Inc’s Android software.

For the first time ever!

Oh, wait, that’s the same competitors Apple’s had for years.

Sources have said demand for Apple’s $100 cheaper, brightly hued iPhone 5C lagged sales for the top-tier 5S, spurring concerns about the iPhone’s market positioning and its ability to compete with a growing profusion of lower-cost rivals.

Is there a more backwards statement than that? “The iPhone 5c may be having trouble competing with the iPhone 5s, so bladdity razzle fozzle, Apple doomed.”

In particular, some investors worry Apple may have missed a chance to jumpstart sales and fend off Samsung in China with an even more affordable phone.

Other investors worry that space aliens are stealing our precious bodily fluids while we sleep, something Apple has done nothing about.

Revenue from China, Hong Kong and Taiwan climbed just 6 percent to $5.7 billion in the quarter, despite the 5C and 5S going on sale in September.

That’s one way to look at it. The other way to look it is the way Ben Reitzes of Barclay’s did on Monday’s conference call when he told Tim Cook:

Congrats on being, I think, the only company in my sector to grow in China this quarter.

Reitzes covers technology stocks.

Apple’s quarter wasn’t amazing, but it wasn’t bad. And it’s only “disappointing” if you haven’t been paying attention.

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