Apple's Future Profit Picture Flashes Uncertainty to Analysts

Apple Computer has had a long, and at times stormy, history with the channel. The computer maker is now poised to become the third-largest PC seller in the U.S., behind Hewlett-ackard and Dell. Sales of the Macintosh line are zooming. So what's not to like?

Apple reported robust profit in Q2 with sales of Macs up 41 percent from a year ago. And of course, the iPhone and iPod continue to be strong his in the consumer market. Quarterly revenue rose 38 percent and profit rose 31 percent from a year ago. All in all, it's an enviable performance.

But Apple was cagey about what it sees going forward, and that set off alarm bells in the entire tech sector. Projected earnings for Q3 came in below what Wall Street expected. Couple that with the growing (and somewhat unseemly) speculation about the health of CEO Steve Jobs, and Apple stock's struggled despite the overwhemingly positive news.

This is not unusual in the tech sector or the channel, where the slightest whiff of a slowdown in an expected increase can set off a near-panic. (Just ask Cisco's John Chambers of Microsoft's Steve Ballmer.) Apple's latest performance is certainly good news for the channel as the Macintosh continues its strong sales. Logging nearly $8 billion in revenue and projecting $1 share profit next quarter isn't too shabby, either. Too bad the industry analysts can't calm themselves down.

 

 


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