Don’t worry, Apple fans. When CEO Tim Cook talks about the new products he plans to introduce this year he isn’t just referring to variations on familiar themes, such as a large-screen iPhone. “We’re working on things that you can’t see today,” he told analysts in a conference call following his company’s latest earnings report. That may be small comfort to investors who are concerned that Apple is losing its mojo. Cook didn’t engage with a question about activist investor Carl Icahn’s campaign to persuade the company to repurchase $50B of its shares this year. “We’ve been buying back stock,” the CEO said, noting that the company returned $100B to shareholders through dividends and stock repurchases. That wasn’t enough to satisfy investors who drove Apple shares down 8% post-market. The main concern appears to be its projection that revenues for the current quarter will come in between $42B and $44B — either down or flat from $43.6B in the period last year. Apple says that its forecast reflects some quirky developments. For example, due to inventory problems in late 2012 some sales were pushed into early 2013, a problem Apple avoided in the latest holiday season. Execs also cited the strengthening dollar vs the Yen and Australian dollar, and the continuing slide in iPod sales. “All of us have known for some time that iPod is a declining business,” Cook says. What about the drop in iPhone‘s market share? “Our objective has always been to make the best, not the most, and we feel we’re doing that.” He also expects sales to increase in emerging markets in Latin America, the Middle East and Africa, Central and Eastern Europe, and China. He attributes the slight pullback in sales in North America to the fact that “some [mobile phone] carriers changed their upgrade policies” — making it harder for customers to score a new phone before the end of their two-year contracts. “That affected the last quarter and will affect the current quarter.” Apple’s slogan used to be “think different.” Based on Cook’s comments today, it probably should be: “just wait.” And no worries: “Our customers are going to love what we’re going to do.”
By DAVID LIEBERMAN, Financial Editor | Monday January 27, 2014 @ 6:33pm ESTTags: Apple, iPhone, iPod, Tim Cook
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