Tim's Got This: Question Apple's Revenue Growth at Your Own Peril

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Steve Jobs would often refer to a desirable Apple (AAPL) product as one in which all the features magically combine to give the user an unexpected and pleasing sensation of ultimate utility and quality. The whole exceeding the sum of its parts.

The same can be said for Apple's financials. Taken bit by bit, the things that Apple does on a routine basis end up driving revenues, frequently to record highs. Regrettably, perspective is often lacking. So let's take a close look at the product line.

1. iPad. Apple recently replaced its low end, full-size iPad, the iPad 2, with the iPad 4 (with better specs all around) while keeping the price at $399 for the basic model. This move had some thought behind it. As Wells Fargo analyst Maynard Um pointed out on March 18, "The price reduction comes at a time where Samsung is launching a new Galaxy TabPRO line priced at $499 (Model 10.1/16GB/Wi-Fi) and positions AAPL to be more competitive in regards to pricing."

Apple always does things for a reason. In this case, the extreme quality of a generation-old iPad, with an attractive price and good gross margins, can go toe-to-toe with the competition's latest. There is wisdom in always making the best.

2. iPhone 5c. Contrarians mew that the iPhone 5c hasn't sold as well as the 5s. A price reduction could be construed as an admission of defeat. However, in practical business terms, Apple has been very adept at clearing out inventory with judicious price reductions.

Apple is now selling an 8 GB iPhone 5c for about $70 less than the 16GB model in non-U.S. markets.

Apple is clearly operating with good knowledge of customer needs and changing local market technology. Under the watchful eye of Tim Cook, it generally succeeds at clearing excess inventory. (Unlike Android's attempt, an 8GB iPhone is very usable.)

3. iPhone 5s & 5c. A recent Morgan Stanley (MS) report claims that it is consistently better at predicting total iPhone sales than the consensus estimates of analysts. And for the first calendar quarter of 2014, Morgan Stanley's AlphaWise Tracker calls for 42 million iPhones sold, 4 million more handsets than consensus estimates.


Yes, 42 million is just short of a year-over-year increase. On the other hand, let's beat analyst estimates by several billion dollars.

4. Apple TV. At the recent shareholder meeting, Apple CEO Tim Cook disclosed that Apple sold 10 million Apple TVs in 2013, resulting in about $1 billion in revenue. The content offerings and technology of the device have steadily improved and acquainted many consumers with the product. (That 10 million comprises approximately 25% of the entire flat-panel TV market.)

"It's a little more difficult to call it a hobby these days," Mr. Cook said.

5. Mac Pro. Four months after the launch in late December 2013, Apple still can't keep up with demand, and the estimated ship date after an order remains about a month out. Demand is so great, there's zero surplus, so the spectacular black cylinder hasn't even been showcased in Apple's retail stores.

The decision to make this product in the post-PC era was bold and is paying off.

Realistic estimates for the rumored-but-almost-certain Apple iWatch are still just that, and because of the expected price and utility, it will ramp up even more quickly than the iPhone and iPad. While sales forecasts of unannounced products are always iffy, and no one outside Apple knows when it will ship, it's not particularly starry-eyed to suggest, as Morgan Stanley's Katy Huberty has, that an Apple iWatch could reach 250 million sold in 10 quarters after launch.  This translates to an average of about $4 billion to Apple's revenues each quarter.

Apple decisions are regularly viewed in isolation when critiqued. However, as the data above shows, across the board, Apple is delivering desirable products, making savvy decisions and generating serious revenues. Apple's ongoing success, in qualitative terms, looks to be more than just the sum of the parts.

At the time of publication the author is long AAPL.

This article represents the opinion of a contributor and not necessarily that of TheStreet or its editorial staff.

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