Hope springs eternal in the heart of Apple (AAPL) believers. Last night the company released an earnings report that was surprising on two fronts.
1) 31.2 million iPhones sold, well ahead of estimates and 20% more than in the same quarter last year
2) iPad unit sales of 14.6 million fell 25% in sequential quarters and missed expectations by a country mile
The stock is rocking in early trading, pushing $440 after closing yesterday at $418.99. In part that's a function of extremely low expectations and the stunning iPhone sales. Feeding the fire is a comment from CEO Tim Cook implying yet again that something new and fabulous will be released sometime soon.
"We are laser-focused and working hard on some new products that we will introduce this Fall and across 2014" said Cook in last night's conference call. If the remark sounds familiar it's because Cook has been saying much the same thing for the last two years.
The issue is less about what those new products might be, but rather why should anyone care what Tim Cook promises anymore. Yahoo! Finance Technology Reporter Aaron Pressman says Cook isn't the type of leader he was booked as when he took office in August of 2011.
"Isn't it ironic that under Steve Jobs [Cook] was the guy who kept the channel moving, who was the inventory guru who made sure everything came in on time and under price, and now all his problems are about getting products on a timely basis?" Pressman notes.
Now, that same executive over-promises, under-delivers and leaves billions in sales on the table by cramming releases into the end of the year. By tradition new CEOs get about a year's worth of honeymoon. Cook has been in office twice that long with little to show for it other than stockpiling cash and tweaking legacy product. At any other company (except for perhaps Microsoft (MSFT)) there would be calls for his head.
Pressman isn't ready to go that far. Yet. "I'm not saying Tim Cook should be fired right now, but if I was giving him a grade it would be C."
At a lesser company a gentleman's C grade would be good enough. Not at Apple. If Cook can't come up with something more ambitious than software tweaks and promises, he should be iFired by New Year's Eve.
[At the time of publication Jeff Macke had no position in any of the stocks mentioned]