The record $17 billion Apple bond offering this week will do more than just placate shareholders eager to get some benefit from the company's $144.7 billion in cash.
It will help Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) avoid paying taxes, a feat that the Cupertino, CA tech giant has elevated to a high art.
The company has kept the bulk of its cash - some $102 billion - in overseas accounts to avoid paying the 35% corporate tax rate here in the United States.
Borrowing money to fund its plans for dividend increases and stock buybacks allows Apple to reward its shareholders without repatriating those foreign profits and paying U.S. taxes.
Better yet, the interest Apple will pay out in its bonds is tax deductible, which will reduce the company's tax bill even more.
It's all so elegantly devious - and perfectly legal.
Apple Stock is Up After Earnings – But Are Gains Here to Stay?
Apple stock was up 5% in after-hours trading Tuesday when its earnings report turned out to be better than expected - but, not great.
Everyone was bracing for the worst when Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) released second-quarter earnings Tuesday after the close. The big question was just how bad things were going to be.
The answer turned out to be... not so awful. The iPhone maker surprised Wall Street with better than expected numbers, mostly because expectations were so low.
However, as expected, forward guidance was glum.
Apple Stock Rises Before Earnings, but No One's Expecting Good Numbers
Apple stock was up nearly 2% by noon today (Tuesday) - but this could be the end of gains for a while depending on what happens this afternoon.
Undeniably the most anticipated earnings report of the season is the Apple earnings report, due out after the close Tuesday. Expectations are for a downright dismal quarter.
Among the issues Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) is expected to address include:
- iPhones: Apple generated some $22.7 billion from the sale of 35 million iPhones in the same quarter a year ago. Investors will want to hear how much competition from other smartphone markers, like Samsung, has chipped away at those numbers.
- iPads: Apple sold 11.8 million iPads that generated $6.6 billion in sales over the same period a year earlier. With the bevy of new and cheaper tablets now on the market, it is unlikely Apple has been able to maintain those robust sales.
- Gross Margins: Gross margins peaked at an astounding 47.4% during this quarter last year. Apple's warning last October that margins could drop as low as 38% was the catalyst behind the stock's steep plunge. In January, Apple said profits should come in around 37.5% to 38.5%. These numbers are crucial.
- Revenue and Profit: Last year, Apple earned $12.30 a share on revenue of $39.2 billion. Estimates are for $10.12 a share on revenue of $42.6 billion. Even the slightest miss could wallop shares.
- Guidance: Most importantly will be what the company says about future quarters. Analysts expect Apple to guide lower, at least for the next couple of quarters.
Of particular interest will be what Apple plans to do with its hefty $157 billion cash stash. A special or increased dividend and a bigger share buyback could provide a temporary boost to the stock. But any gains are likely to be short lived.
"People have to be patient. The next quarter will be disastrous and the quarter after that stock will only go in one direction and that is down," Trip Chowdhry, co-founder of Global Equities Research told CNBC.
Why This Week's Apple Earnings Matter So Much More than Usual
Monster Apple earnings in the December quarter would do wonders for Apple stock - but don't count on that happening.
Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) earnings for Q1 2013 are due out Wednesday after market close, and Wall Street estimates range from a 14% decline to a 12% gain. Apple's own guidance is for earnings of just $11.75 per share, while the consensus on Wall Street is for earnings of $13.41 per share.
Even if Apple earnings match Wall Street expectations, $13.41 per share would actually be a decline of more than 3% year-over-year, a far cry from the stunning 118% gain the company reported last year. The psychological impact of declining year-over-year profits for the first time in nine years could ding the stock.
An actual earnings miss - even by just a few pennies - would be more dangerous for Apple stock, meaning the likelihood that Apple stock will fall after earnings is higher than usual.
Here's how Apple got in this vulnerable position.
Could QE3 Really Do Less for the Economy Than the iPhone 5?
Investors are eagerly waiting to hear if U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke will announce QE3 this week. Bernanke speaks Thursday at the conclusion of the two-day Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting and many expect him to announce some form of stimulus to revive the struggling U.S. economy.
But there's another huge event scheduled this week, one that could provide a tool other than printing money for boosting U.S. gross domestic product (GDP).
Believe it or not, analysts at JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NSYE: JPM) estimate that the Apple iPhone 5, expected to be unveiled tomorrow (Wednesday) afternoon and on sale by the end of this month, will raise GDP by 0.5% in the fourth quarter of this year.
Money Morning Chief Investment Strategist Keith Fitz-Gerald appeared on Fox Business' "Varney & Co." program Tuesday morning to discuss the possibility of this iPhone effect and what it implies.
The Future Belongs to Apple's iPad
The Apple iPad is more than just a great tablet; it's the single most important computing device released in more than 25 years.
In fact, you'd have to go back to the introduction in 1984 of the Macintosh personal computer to find a machine as game-changing as this one.
Of course, back then, the Mac grabbed only a small share of the huge PC market. But what it did do was establish Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) as the sector's clear technical leader. It also gave birth to desktop publishing.
This time around, however, Apple has turned the tables on its rivals in two ways...
- First, it came up with a breakthrough approach and the ideal screen size. At nearly 10 inches diagonal - very close to the size of a piece of paper - this format feels natural to most users.
- Second, it's a runaway success, boasting 70% of the market share.
You see, the PC industry is going into a long decline. It's already started. Ditto for newspapers, magazines, music distribution, and lots of other physical products that will get transformed into software.
So says Michael Saylor, author of the hot new book "The Mobile Wave: How Mobile Intelligence Will Change Everything." As I told you yesterday, I tracked Saylor down to talk about how mobile computing fit into the Era of Radical Change. (You can read the first of my three-part series here.)
His is hardly an academic view. See, Saylor also serves as the CEO of MicroStrategy Inc. (NASDAQ:MSTR), a leader in business intelligence.
He believes five billion people will use iPads or a comparable device within a decade. That's roughly 75% of the population of Earth. No doubt, he admitted to me, that's a bold prediction. He added this:
Naturally, I wanted to know just what investors need to do to make money off this trend, so I could share the information with you.
Saylor answered by sharing four key facts every investor needs to know about this market-dominating device.
Here they are...
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Apple Earnings Miss Points to Slowing Growth
Now that the Apple earnings report missed missed Wall Street expectations for the second time in a year, it has some questioning whether the company is finally coming back to earth.
Revenue for Apple Inc.'s (Nasdaq: AAPL) third quarter was $35.2 billion, missing the consensus of $37.1 billion and only showing year-over-year growth of 23.2%. That growth rate was far below the 82% in reported for Q3 2011.
Profit growth slowed as well. Apple earned just $9.32 per share in the June quarter compared to analyst expectations of $10.38. That put Apple's bottom-line growth at 27.5% year over year, little more than a quarter of last year's eye-popping 125%.
Disappointed investors sent AAPL down 5% in after-hours trading.
The Apple earnings miss was driven mostly by lower iPhone sales of 26 million, while analysts had expected 29 million, although Mac sales also were short of expectations.
Several Wall Street analysts had lowered their expectations for iPhone sales in recent weeks, but Apple even missed those reduced numbers.
The bleak news carried over to gross margin as well, which came in at 42.8%, short of the consensus number of 44%.
The only positives were the iPad and iPod. Sales of the iPad were 17 million, beating the consensus of about 15 million. Sales of the iPod, which have been slowing for years, were actually up 10% to 6.8 million.
But it was the bad news that dominated this Apple earnings report.
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Apple Stock (Nasdaq: AAPL) at $600: Too Far Too Fast?
After Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) touched $600, it set off speculation about whether the stock is truly worth $600 a share.
Some consider Apple's parabolic run-up in price as a warning sign of a bubble. In December Apple was still trading under $400.
Others look at the escalating sales growth of such Apple products as the iPhone and iPad and see justification for a $600 stock, a $700 stock, or even higher.
So we at Money Morning thought it would be worth comparing Apple's annual earnings numbers with the rise in its stock price since 2006, the year before the iPhone debuted.
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