Why are Wall Street analysts so irked over Apple’s reporting changes?
Wall Street analysts have complained over the years when retailers have decided to stop disclosing monthly same-store sales. Now, Apple is getting an earful after it announced it would stop breaking out unit sales and ASPs (average selling prices) for iPhones as well as for Macs and other product lines.
Some felt the move would stoke investor resentment that Apple was looking to hide signs of slowing sales of iPhones.
In a note written after Apple’s Nov. 1 fourth quarter conference call, Daniel Ives of Wedbush Securities wrote, “The Street will find this a tough pill to swallow this morning as the transparency of the Cupertino story takes a major dent given that tracking iPhone units has become habitual to any investor that has closely followed the Apple story for the last decade or more and is critical to the thesis.”
In another note, Citi analyst Jim Suva wrote that the move “left investors speechless” and that “some investors will view this as a negative that the company is trying to hide information that in the past was so important to assess the company’s strength.”
On the call, Apple’s management stressed that they believed unit sales had become less important than total dollar revenue over the years and that the company’s other lines of business were increasingly important. The move underscores Apple’s desire to become more of a services business with officials indicating it would disclose services gross margin for the first time ever.
“I was shocked, but it makes sense,” Gene Munster, an analyst at Loup Ventures, told Bloomberg. “Apple wants investors to focus less on iPhone units, and more on the overall Apple business. It’s going to take a few quarters for Apple to win investor confidence in this new way of analyzing the Apple story.”
Apple stock fell 6.6 percent last Friday, the first day of trading after the news. The quarterly report beat on earnings and revenues, but Apple also provided light guidance for the holiday quarter.
Many publicly held companies withhold providing certain information to the investment community for competitive reasons, but the degree of transparency varies significantly by company.
- Apple Reports Fourth Quarter Results – Apple
- Apple has ‘something to hide’: Here’s what every major analyst had to say about its earnings report – CNBC
- Apple Will Stop Reporting iPhone Unit Sales; Forecast Underwhelms – Bloomberg
- Apple will no longer report iPhone numbers after growth went to 0%, and analysts are now worried iPhone sales may decline – Business Insider
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What do you think drove Apple’s decision to stop disclosing unit sales and pricing on iPhones and other devices? Was it the right move?