Financial reports and comments on them are one thing, but getting those little morsels of coded information from Tim Cook or Luca Maestri are quite another. Today at 2:00 p.m. Pacific Time, Apple will be holding their Q3 2015 financial conference call with a host of financial analysts and investment researchers. Apple's financial statement, released at roughly 1:10 p.m. Pacific, should be fairly pedestrian. Financial analysts are anticipating 50-55 million iPhones sold, earnings at the higher end of Apple’s revenue guidance of $48 billion, all while keeping a keen eye for any Apple Watch sales information. But beyond the expected is where questions from the likes of Piper Jaffray's Gene Munster or UBS’s Steve Milunovich come forth precious nuggets of Apple’s future.
There are three major areas of commentary I'm looking for during the Q3 call. The first is HomeKit. It was a no-show at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference in June. The likely reason for the omission was due to the second area of interest, Apple TV. Both topics go hand-in-hand, as it is highly rumored that the next generation Apple TV will be, amongst other things, Apple’s home automation hub, requiring HomeKit specific tools. Cook will be asked about Apple TV. The question is, will he deliver any hints as to what may be coming, or how current Apple TV sales have been since the $30 price drop earlier in the year (now only $69)?
Increasing rumors surrounding a 12.9" iPad will loom large during the call. It is likely Apple will report continued falling, and year-over-year, iPad sales declines. During past calls, Cook has simply stated he believes the iPad's future is bright, with no specific guidance or explanation as to why. If a new pro-style iPad arrives this fall, Cook may deliver some veild hints to this possibility. When analysts peppered Apple about whether it would get into the netbook craze, during consecutive financial calls Cook gave hints to the forthcoming iPad stating Apple had some interesting ideas for the space, should they choose to enter it. Apple's common refrain is that they never talk about unannounced products – until they want to of course. If a larger iPad is in Apple’s future, count on Cook throwing out a few hints of its arrival this fall.
The final topic of interest revolves around Apple’s ever-increasing R&D budget. When questioned in the past about R&D spending, the pat answer from Mr. Maestri has been that Apple has a vast array of both hardware and software, thus increasing R&D spending is a natural extension of growth. It is about as vague an answer Apple could deliver without simply saying “no comment.” The massive spending cannot be easily explained without giving up key elements to what Apple is working on, so no real answer is given. One type of device that can consume billions in development would be a car. Let’s see if Cook or Maestri will at least give us a tease that something, something new and different, may be coming from Apple.
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