"I haven't seen a flat-to-down quarter predicted since September 11. I don't understand," an analyst remarked during Apple's earnings conference call today. "Did sales fall off to make it so conservative?"
Well, no. As Apple posted higher than expected third quarter earnings, including record numbers of PowerBook and iPod sales, it seemed like a strange question to ask. But while the Intel transition, announced on June 6, hardly had time to show up in a quarter which ended June 30, its consequences preoccupied analysts, as evidenced by the early fourth quarter grumbles.
Apple's CFO was keener to point to data that suggests the "Halo Effect" - of iPod-owning Windows-users snapping up a Mac - was now real. Mac units were growing at three times the market clip, Peter Oppenheimer pointed out several times, for the third quarter in succession.
Apple posted a net profit of $320m on sales of $3.52bn in Q3 FY2005. That compares to a profit of $290m on sales of $3.2bn in Q2, and $61m and $2bn a year ago.
1,182m Mac CPUs and 6.155m iPods were shipped, and the gross margin was an impressive 29.7 per cent. Lower than expected component prices, especially for flash memory, helped. Apple moved 5.31m iPods in the previous quarter.
Looking forward, Apple predicts steady revenue and lower profits in Q4, with gross revenue tipped to be $3.5bn and earnings per share of 32 cents, or around $240m.
"We're being prudent," said Oppenheimer, who also promised that "more PowerPC Macs are coming" in the next quarter.
Tiger shipped over two million copies, either in retail or bundled with new Macs, adding $250m of revenue. ®