Apple CFO: Company is a 'cash machine'

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Apple Chief Financial Officer Fred Anderson told reporters at the Salomon Smith Barney Tech2001 Conference that the company has nothing new to report regarding its quarterly earnings forecast that it gave earlier this summer. And in the current misery laden world of tech companies, this lack of news is good news.

"We give guidance once a quarter and if you don't hear from us, that's good news," Anderson told CBS Marketwatch .

Apple is currently in its fourth fiscal quarter and Wall Street is forecasting earnings of 19 cents per share for Apple, according to the consensus estimate in a survey of analysts by First Call/Thomson Financial. Apple's inventories have dwindled to less than four weeks, Anderson told Marketwatch. Despite the economic slowdown, Apple has grown cash supply by about $200 million in fiscal 2001, he added.

"Apple, quite frankly, has been a cash machine," Anderson told Marketwatch. Mac OS X will be a "huge growth driver next year" as applications convert to the new platform, he added.

Apple's retail division is expected to show a "slight profit" in 2002 and will break even in the December quarter, Anderson said. The company is doing well in the education market as it gains market share, he added. Plus, Apple still has US$300 million in cash earmarked for its stock buyback program.

"We're delivering solid profitability while maintaining lean channel inventories in a weak economic environment," Anderson said in a July press conference. "Our balance sheet remains very strong, with over $4.2 billion in cash, and we are targeting a slight sequential increase in revenues and earnings per share in the September quarter."

At that time, Apple had less than $19 million of its own inventory -- about two days' worth -- in stock, Anderson said. Don't look for subsequent inventory reductions as Apple is "pretty much where we want to be," Anderson said.

The consumer market was the weakest area of Apple sales in the quarter despite the popularity of the new iBook. Apple's online store continues to thrive, garnering 40 percent of Apple's overall sales as compared to 34 percent during the second quarter.

Apple is also bullish on its new retail stores, Anderson said. Looking ahead, the CFO said in July that the company expects revenues and unit sales for the financial quarter ending in September to up slightly.

This story, "Apple CFO: Company is a 'cash machine'" was originally published by PCWorld.

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