There seems to be a prevalent feeling that something is amiss at Apple. The stock price has fallen almost 40 percent since its September high of $700, recent product introductions have represented only marginal improvements on existing models, and competition from companies like Samsung is heating up. Many are pointing to the passing of innovation powerhouse Steve Jobs as the main reason for the company’s struggles. But Apple third-quarter earnings, which were released Tuesday afternoon, suggest the company’s best days aren’t necessarily behind it.
While recent data have reasonably led many to take a bearish stance on the company, those with a broader—and more fundamental—view see that Apple is as strong as ever. First and foremost in investors’ questions about Apple is innovation: can the company continue to break into new product categories and set the tone of the industry? The answer is yes.
A look at the company’s history suggests that the time between groundbreaking releases has been anywhere from three to six years. That means that since the release of the iPad in 2010, the absolute earliest we could have seen something significant was this year. With wearable tech getting a nod from Tim Cook, iTunes radio geared up for fall release, and significant cash being poured into R&D, Apple isn’t simply resting on its laurels.
Apple is reaping the benefits of being a massive company with a supply-chain specialist, Tim Cook, at the helm. While Samsung has certainly grown into a serious smartphone player, Apple still has certain competitive edges. The company’s operating margin of 35 percent significantly exceeds the industry standard of 18 percent. According to Loizos Heracleous, professor of strategy at Warwick Business School, “One of the main reasons Apple has been so successful is their efficiency.” Compared with Samsung’s 15 percent operating margin, Apple is “a lot more efficient” than one of its toughest competitors.
Meanwhile sales of its core products continue to rise. Apple sold 31.2 million iPhones and 14.6 million iPads in the quarter.
Here are a couple of other impressive numbers from the earnings report: $6.9 billion (the amount of net profit it recorded); $3.05 (the dividend it paid per share); and $245 million (the amount it spent on research & development).