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依赖iPhone提价的收入增长,苹果还能维持多久?

Aaron Pressman 2018年05月07日

华尔街担心,高价iPhone可能吓跑一些消费者,尤其是在新兴市场。

苹果(Apple)首席执行官蒂姆·库克销售高价iPhone的策略是否取得了效果?华尔街莫衷一是。而看起来,他们还需要至少六个月的时间才能得出结论。

上周二,苹果发布了截至3月31日的季度财报,并得到了投资者的正面反馈。公司收入提高了16%至611亿美元,与分析师预测的一样;iPhone销量达到5,220万部,也与华尔街的预期相差无几。

此外,公司还试图讨好投资者,声称要回购1,000亿美元股票,并提高16%的股息。这种破费往往会取悦投资者。

不过纵使苹果股价在盘后交易中上涨了4%,也只是回到了175美元左右,这是去年11月以及之后几个月中来回波动的水平。而华尔街预测的苹果业绩,也是分析师花了几周时间调低预期的结果。他们担心高价的iPhone可能吓跑一些消费者,尤其是在新兴市场。

就在一周前,分析师对苹果收入的预测平均值还是519亿美元。而花旗集团(Citigroup)的分析师吉姆·苏瓦几乎在一个月前就预测到了苹果1,000亿美元的股票回购。

苹果现在显然做得不错,不过公司未来增长的来源却仍然朦胧未明。

首席执行官蒂姆·库克把握了每一个与分析师举行电话会议的机会,来宣扬iPhone尤其是iPhone X的前景。库克在电话会议中屡次表示,iPhone X面世以来,一直是苹果的热销机型,也是中国卖得最好的手机,试图借此回应一些分析师的负面叙述。

他表示:“iPhone X是一款饱受喜爱的产品。我认为它类似于赢得超级碗(Super Bowl)的球队,你可能希望他们再多赢几分,但他们已经获得超级碗了。我对这款产品感到无比骄傲。”

对于高价iPhone能否热卖的争论可以追溯到去年9月。除了推出1,000美元的全新机型之外,苹果还把升级款的iPhone 8定价699美元,较之前一年的版本贵了50美元或8%,把iPhone 8 Plus定价799美元,较之前一年的大屏版本贵了30美元或4%。新机型开售六个月以来,苹果手机的销量为1.295亿部,同比增长仅有0.4%,但它们的售价更高,因此收入增长了14%,达到996亿美元。

真正的问题在于,这种收入增长的幅度,苹果还能保持多久?要维持这样的增速,今年的新机型就要卖得更贵,否则在许多人认为已经饱和的全球智能手机市场,苹果卖出的手机数还必须再次增加。

库克激烈地反对这种说法,指出全球去年共卖出了约5亿部简单的功能手机。他表示:“许多这类手机进入了新兴市场。我们仍然相信,随着时间的推移,所有的手机都会是智能手机。在我们看来,还有这么多功能手机在卖,就意味着还有巨大的机会。”

当然,苹果也在其他领域发展,例如Apple Music等服务和AirPods和Apple Watch等可穿戴设备。但是这些业务的规模只相当于iPhone的一小部分,利润空间也无法与后者匹敌。

目前来看,华尔街的争论还将持续很长时间。(龙8国际|官网)

译者:严匡正 

Wall Street hasn’t been able to figure out whether Apple CEO Tim Cook’s gambit to sell higher priced iPhones is working. And it looks like it’s going to take more than six months to figure it out.

On Tuesday, Apple reported results for the quarter ending March 31 that received a positive reception from investors. Revenue jumped 16% to $61.1 billion, just as analysts had forecast, and iPhone sales reached 52.2 million, also about what Wall Street expected.

Additionally, the company tried to curry favor with investors by pledging to buy back another $100 billion of its own stock and raise its dividend by 16%. That kind of spending often pleases investors.

But the almost 4% jump in Apple’s stock price in after-hours trading only got the shares back to around $175, the same level where they were back in November and have bounced around for the intervening months. And the Wall Street forecasts that Apple met were a result of weeks of analysts reducing their projections based on fears the higher priced iPhones might scare off some customers, particularly in emerging markets.

As recently a week ago, the average analyst revenue forecast was $51.9 billion. And Citigroup analyst Jim Suva predicted the $100 billion share buyback level almost a month ago.

Apple is clearly doing well for now, but the sources of future growth may still be murky.

CEO Tim Cook took every opportunity on a call with analysts to pump up the iPhone’s prospects, particularly the iPhone X. The iPhone X has been Apple’s top selling device every week since it came out and was the best selling phone model in China, Cook noted multiple times on the call, as he sought to combat the negative narrative some analysts were pushing.

“The iPhone X is a beloved product,” he said. “I think that it’s one of those things where a team wins the Super Bowl and maybe you want them to win by a few more points, but it’s a Super Bowl winner. I could not be prouder of the product.”

The debate over whether higher priced iPhones would sell started back in September. In addition to the new $1,000 model, Apple also priced its upgraded iPhone 8 at $699, $50 or 8%, more than the prior year’s model and 8 Plus at $799, a $30 or 4% price hike last year’s larger screen device. Since the new models went on sale, Apple has sold 129.5 million, just a 0.4% gain from the same six months a year earlier. But with the higher prices, revenue climbed 14% to $99.6 billion.

The real question is how long Apple can keep revenue growing at this pace. To grow a year from now, next year’s models would have to be even more expensive or the number sold would have to start increasing again in what many consider to be an already globally saturated smartphone market.

Cook battled furiously against that narrative, pointing out that about 500 million simple feature phones were sold last year. “Many of those were sold into emerging markets,” he said. “We still believe that over time every phone sold will be a smartphone. It seems to us with so many feature phones being sold, that’s still a big opportunity.”

To be sure, Apple is also growing in other areas, such as sales of services like Apple Music and wearables like AirPods and the Apple Watch. But those businesses remain a fraction of the iPhone’s size and probably can’t match its profit margins, either.

For now, Wall Street will have to keep debating.

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