Apple Surprisingly Announces that it will no longer report iPhone, iPad or Mac Unit Data on Quarterly Financial Reports
The news that Apple will no longer breakout iPhone, Mac and iPad units is disturbing and Wall Street is likely not to appreciate that move by Apple. The last question of the Q&A session was about this issue and the answer that Apple's CEO Tim Cook gave was odd and weak. Is this going to be a bigger issue going forward with Wall Street analysts? Only time will tell.
Starting around the 24:27 of the Conference Call, Apple's CFO Luca Maestri announced a number of changes coming to Apple's financial reporting. The accounting changes are part of the changes set out by the "Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB).
In Maestri's second point he noted in-part that "beginning in the December quarter, we're adopting the FASB standard for revenue recognition. This will not result in any change to our total revenue but it will impact the way that we report the classification of revenue between products and services."
Starting around the 26:27 mark of the Conference Call, Maestri delivered the news that beginning in December quarter Apple 'will no longer be providing unit data for iPhone, iPad and Mac.
Maestri added that "As demonstrated by our Financial performance in recent years the number of units sold in any 90 day period is not necessarily representative of the under lying strength of our business.
Furthermore, a unit of sales is less relevant for us today than it was in the past. Give the breadth of our portfolio and the wider sales price dispersion within any given product line."
The last questions and commentary of the Conference Call came from Citigroup who wanted to know about Apple's view of the Indian market and Apple's decision to not report iPhone units. More specifically the question was: "there will probably be a lot of pushback about not giving iPhone unit data. Some people may fear that this now means that the iPhone units are going to start going negative year-over-year because it's easy to talk about great things and not show the details of things not so great."
On the iPhone unit question, Apple's CEO thought he had a great analogy to help people understand the change Apple is making. Cook noted that "This is a little bit like if you go to the market and you push your cart up to the cashier, and she says, or he says, 'How many units do you have in there?' It doesn't matter a lot how many units there are in there in terms of the overall value of what's in the cart."
Wow, really? If I would have said that to my sales manager years ago I would have been fired. There's a reason why a company reports on unit data so that the team (or public if you're a publicly traded company) can figure out where something is going wrong in order to fix it.
I think the question and commentary form the Citigroup analyst is how everyone felt listening to Luca talk about the change and Cook's oddball response.
After Apple's first press release this afternoon about their great quarter, after hour trading was moving into positive territory. While providing a weaker outlook for fiscal Q1 may have disappointed, you have to wonder if the news of not reporting iPhone unit data going forward worried analysts that the iPhone party was officially over.
For many, the announcement just sounded like Apple knows the iPhone will be drifting downward into negative territory over the next year and Apple wants to change the story. Having to answer to angry investors about drifting iPhone units is something Apple is trying to avoid at all costs.
Stay tuned as more than likely Apple's decision to not report iPhone unit data going forward will have a negative impact on the stock price, at leat temporarily. The big question is whether this news will have a lasting negative effect with fund managers and individual investors.
The announcement felt that it marked the end of an era that Apple's late co-founder ignited and this is going to be very hard for many to swallow.