Along with the notice on when to expect earnings results, Apple today also announced revised guidance for the first fiscal quarter, which will make the January earnings call an interesting one.
Apple now expects revenue of $84 billion and gross margin of 38 percent, down from a guidance of $89 to $93 billion provided in November during the fourth quarter earnings call.
Apple CEO Tim Cook provided several reasons for the drop in an open letter to investors:
- iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR launch timing compared to iPhone X timing in 2017
- A strong U.S. dollar
- Supply constraints on Apple Watch Series 4, iPad Pro, AirPods, and MacBook Air
- Economic weakness in emerging markets, specifically China
- Trade tensions with China
- Lower than anticipated iPhone revenue, primarily in China
- Weak iPhone upgrade numbers in some developed markets due to fewer carrier subsidies and low-priced battery replacements in 2018
It marks a major change in the way that Apple's sales data is reported, making estimating iPhone, Mac, and iPad product sales more difficult. At the time the change was announced, Apple CFO Luca Maestri said that the company does not believe unit sales over the course of a 90-day period are an indicator of the underlying strength of its business.
Apple CEO Tim Cook today provided CNBC with a little more info on its decision, pointing out that the company never offered Apple Watch sales data because of the price range and the lack of value in sharing sales numbers. The iPhone, Cook says, is now in the same position.
It's sort of like you and I going to the grocery store and putting things in our cart and coming up to the register and the person saying 'how many you got'?Cook says that the sales data that it was providing to investors was conflating its value and its usefulness to determining the state of Apple's business.
It doesn't make sense to add them together anymore because the price ranges are so wide. We didn't do it on watch from the beginning. We've never done it on iPod.
As we now step back from the phone, we now have phones being sold in emerging markets like the iPhone 6s for around $300 and so you've got a range from $300 to $1000 or in some cases over $1000 depending upon your selection of [storage]. And so this thing has lost its meaning.
According to Cook, Apple doesn't plan to never comment on units again and will provide data on unit sales if it will better explain results.
Apple is going to make additional disclosures, such as gross margin of services, a business that has grown significantly in recent years.
The quarterly earnings statement will be released at 1:30 PM Pacific/4:30 PM Eastern, with a conference call to discuss the report taking place at 2:00 PM Pacific/5:00 PM Eastern. MacRumors will provide coverage of both the earnings release and conference call on January 29.