Apple: Awesome Earnings, But What’s Next May Be Better

The day after Apple Inc. (AAPL) stunned Wall Street with a 50 percent profit jump, bloggers are reveling in having bested the pros at predicting the company’s first fiscal quarter earnings.

On Monday, Apple said its net income leapt to $3.37 billion – a record-breaking figure. Revenue, too, soared – this time, by 32 percent, to $15.6 billion. All of that amounted to a $3.67 per-share price, higher than most analysts had expected, but close to what many bloggers had said was in store. According to Thomson Reuters, Wall Street was forecasting $2.07 per share on $12.06 billion in sales.

What most pros missed was that Apple has changed its accounting procedures. Last fall, Apple decided to recognize iPhone and Apple TV revenue as soon as it came in, instead of spreading it over 24 months. The blogosphere, however, was on to Cupertino, so it had higher expectations (and was patting itself on the back on Tuesday).

Of course, the accounting shift is just balance-sheet magic. As Teresa Poletti at MarketWatch noted, Apple’s quarter was pretty much in line with analysts’ predictions when unit sales were considered. Apple shipped 3.36 million Macs, 8.7 million iPhones and 21 million iPods – numbers that very nearly mirrored the pros’ guesstimates.

Maybe that’s all yesterday’s news, though. Now bloggers and analysts are breathless with excitement over the anticipated unveiling of the Apple tablet tomorrow. Apple has not confirmed that it’s going to release the tablet but Steve Jobs did reiterate on Monday the company will show off its “latest creation” on Wednesday at 10 a.m. Pacific.

Oh, and there’s some long-awaited change in store for iPhone users. AT&T Inc. (T), the iPhone’s exclusive wireless carrier in the United States, is said to be improving network performance. Customers have complained, loudly, about the inability to make the most of 3G features because AT&T’s network is slow and clogged. To that point, Apple COO Tim Cook said on Monday that AT&T has shown Apple plans for the wireless network.

“We have personally reviewed these plans, and we have very high confidence that they will make significant progress toward fixing them,” Cook said in a conference call.


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