By Chloe Aiello
Apple shares tumbled on Friday, as investors and analysts processed the tech giant's announcement it would no longer publish unit sales for its iPhones, iPads, or Macs in future earnings reports. Apple executives have insisted the metrics are no longer relevant to investors ー but some analysts don't see it that way.
"When we kind of look at this on the surface, clearly it appears to be that Apple is trying to hide something," CFRA Research's senior industry analyst Angelo Zino told Cheddar Friday.
Despite beating on quarterly earnings and revenue, Apple ($AAPL) disappointed investors on Thursday with weaker-than-anticipated guidance for the ever-important holiday quarter, and iPhone unit sales that just missed the mark, notching almost zero growth from a year ago. But perhaps what shocked Apple watchers most was the company's decision to, beginning next quarter, withhold the number of iPhones, iPads, and Macs it sold.
Apple's chief financial officer Luca Maestri announced the change on a conference call with investors following Thursday's earnings report, arguing "a unit of sale is less relevant for us today than it was in the past."
CEO Tim Cook added, "This is a little bit like if you go to the market and you push your cart up to the cashier and she says or he says, 'How many units you have in there?' It doesn't matter a lot how many units there are in there in terms of the overall value of what's in the cart."
Technology analyst Daniel Ives of Wedbush Securities said that although he understands the logic of the decision ー considering average selling prices are all over the board ー it damages Apple's reputation of transparency.
"The Street will find this a tough pill to swallow this morning ... given that tracking iPhone units have become habitual to any investor that has closely followed the Apple story for the last decade-plus and is critical to the thesis," Ives wrote in a note on Friday.
"Skeptics will point to Apple doing this right at the critical juncture where higher [average selling prices] are making up for slower unit sales which remains the worry and the stock will get hit accordingly this morning," he added.
Despite their skepticism, both Ives and Zino remain bullish on Apple ー at least for now.
"We are probably going to see a down environment in terms of unit shipments over the next year, but that being said, average selling prices continue to offset those declines," Zino said.
"We are buying on the dip ... we are very positive, we are very bullish on this."
Apple briefly its lost grip on its $1 trillion market capitalization during trading on Friday. The stock ultimately closed the day down about 6.8 percent, putting it in a so-called "correction," more than 10 percent off its all-time highs.
Apple did not immediately respond to Cheddar's request for comment.
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