News / Economy

Apple Resets Clock as Investors Await Next Big Thing

The Apple logo is pictured on the front of a retail store in the Marina neighborhood in San Francisco, California, Apr. 23, 2014.
The Apple logo is pictured on the front of a retail store in the Marina neighborhood in San Francisco, California, Apr. 23, 2014.
Reuters
Apple Inc just bought itself some much-needed time.
 
On Wednesday, the company surprised Wall Street with news that it sold more iPhones in the March quarter than even the most bullish analysts had expected. It threw another $30 billion into an already sizeable stock buyback program and instituted an 8 percent quarterly dividend increase to boot. And profits rose by an unexpected 7 percent.
 
To top it all off, Apple unveiled a 7-for-1 stock split that should go down well with individuals who want a piece of a household name but could not afford to fork over $500 a share.
 
The litany of positive numbers sent Apple's long-stagnant shares up 8 percent. But it masked a more fundamental concern that has kept the company's once-unstoppable share price in check for over a year: when will, or can, Tim Cook pull another gadget out of Apple's hat?
 
“Most people will be talking about the split, increased dividend and buyback. But the real focus for the company and the stock is what and when is the new category” of product coming, argued Hudson Square analyst Daniel Ernst.
 
“Being an Apple investor in the last couple of years has required patience. And that's something investors in the last 10 years have not had to have.”
 
No one would argue that Apple has had a phenomenal run over the past decade - first with the iPod, then the iPhone in 2007, and finally the iPad in 2010. But now, as Google Inc  spends billions to buy up technology from robotics to artificial intelligence, and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd and other Android-device makers swallow chunks of Apple's market share, some are impatient to see what Apple can come up with next.
 
Many Apple observers are betting on another successful emerging from its secretive labs in Cupertino, California in the second half of this year. Wednesday's strong showing will appease investors who want to see some stock action in the meantime, given Apple's stock has been stuck largely just above $500 for months.
 
“Agree completely with [Apple's] increased buyback and extremely pleased with results. Believe we'll also be happy when we see new products,” tweeted billionaire activist Carl Icahn, who waged a Twitter campaign to get the iPhone maker to boost its buyback program.
 
For my next trick...
 
That's not to say investors on Wednesday did not applaud a much healthier outlook for the company than was apparent in January, when disappointing holiday iPhone sales and a revenue forecast that implied flat growth in smartphone shipments sent the stock below $500.
 
Apple reported sales of 43.7 million iPhones in the March quarter, far outpacing the 38 million Wall Street had predicted. That drove a 4.6 percent rise in revenue to $45.6 billion - a record for any non-holiday quarter - beating Wall Street's projections for about $43.5 billion.
 
Executives singled out greater China and Japan, where iPhone sales jumped by strong double-digits, boosted by the recent inclusion of NTT Docomo Inc and China Mobile Ltd as carrier partners.
 
But whether Apple can again devise a revolutionary new product remains the central question in the minds of investors and Silicon Valley executives. Many hope the next iPhone, which sources have said will sport a larger screen with new display technology, will provide a timely lift to the company's bottom line in September.
 
In the longer term, the company still needs a game-changer, not so much to end up being Apple's next “iPhone,” but because a truly successful new product will shore up Cook's stewardship. That would boost Wall Street's confidence in the post-Steve Jobs leadership while restoring Apple's reputation as a leading light of Silicon Valley innovation.
 
“Apple may never make a product that's as successful or generate as much revenue as the iPhone,” said Morningstar analyst Brian Colello. But “investors still want to see new innovation, new products under Cook's leadership.”
 
Cook has promised “new product categories” for 2014.
 
“We didn't ship the first MP3 player, nor the first smartphone, nor the first tablet,” Cook told analysts on Wednesday's post-results conference call.
 
“It means much more to us to get it right than to be first.”

You May Like

Photogallery Early Nigeria Results Show Buhari Leading; Tampering Concerns Mount

One local group monitoring polls is concerned politicians might use security agencies to 'fiddle with the election collation process' at state level More

UN: 7,300 Civilians Killed in Boko Haram Insurgency

A senior UN humanitarian official tells the United Nations Security Council 1,000 people have been killed this year More

Turkish President Warns Iran About Trying to Dominate Middle East

Warning comes amid growing concerns inside Turkey that it will be sucked into a sectarian conflict with its neighbor More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.9220
JPY
USD
119.88
GBP
USD
0.6757
CAD
USD
1.2640
INR
USD
62.626

Rates may not be current.