Who Missed: Apple, or the Analysts?
Of course the big headlines of the afternoon all scream "Apple misses estimates". But, not surprisingly, they really didn't. They missed the analysts estimates, but not their official guidance. Not by a lot.
We all know by now that Apple's guidance is ridiculously conservative, but I think there's still something to be learned by looking at their estimates compared to the actual numbers.
I put together a quick spreadsheet of the companies actual revenue and earnings numbers compared to what they estimated for the past 16 quarters. They've beaten their estimates handily each of those quarters and I made a plot of how much they beat their guidance by. You can find that plot here, and the plot of the actual revenue and EPS numbers is here.
From this plot it looks to me like their performance has exceeded their guidance by a pretty consistent amount. Last quarter looks like an unusually good one.
The part of the earnings announcement that caught my eye most was their guidance for 2012Q1. $9.30 EPS. Holly and Moly! If (and this is a huge "if") they beat revenue by 16% and EPS by 34% (the amount they beat by in 2011Q1 and not far off from this latest quarter) that would put actual EPS at $12.46 for the quarter. Not predicting this is what we'll get, but that would be a monstrous quarter.
I guess my two take aways are that 1) Apple's performance can hardly be called a "miss", except for them missing the estimates of analysts who have finally caught on to just how conservative the official guidance is and b) next quarter should be huge if history is any indication.