August 2010
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Day August 5, 2010

Warner Music slows while iTunes grows

Revenue from digital sales of recorded music grew just 3.7 percent to $169 million. That’s a slower pace than the 4.5 percent growth posted a year ago and 39 percent growth two years earlier.

via Warner Music CEO looks `beyond iTunes’ amid losses – Yahoo! Finance.

For the record, iTunes did grow at 35% in the quarter that Warner Music grew digital sales by 39% two years ago.

But the two diverged a year ago with 17% iTunes vs. WMG’s 4.5% and this past quarter iTunes grew at 27% vs. 3.7%.

Gives us an idea of how much Apps have swelled iTunes’ top line.

Why Apple's cash is worth more than Microsoft's cash

My recent exposé of Apple’s cash (and cash equivalents and long-term securities and short-term securities) drew quite a bit of attention, which is good. Because it needs to be demystified. However, the story does not end there. Part of the problem of cash is that the liquid stuff can often itself change in perceived value due to mis-management.

Cash has to be valued on the basis of what’s to become of it. So what can become of it?

The value in liquid assets can be returned to shareholders in the form of a dividend, which means double taxation on profits; not the best idea usually. Or it can be returned in the form of share re-purchase which tends to have only a temporary effect on share prices, again not a great return. The value can also be increased by means of investment in projects that return higher than what investors expect their cost of capital to be. This is the best option but investment is difficult when the amount involved is so big that no project or set of projects could possibly cost enough to employ the capital. Finally, the value can be completely destroyed through large acquisitions.

I say destroyed because the history of large acquisitions is almost universally known to be value destructive (1). The urge to M&A is why cash on the balance sheet for large companies is usually discounted and share prices “get no credit for it.” This is plaguing Apple with a P/E ex-cash in the teens.

Is this fair?

T-Mobile US celebrates nearly 20 percent smartphone users

T-Mobile loses 93,000 customers but triples smartphone base | Electronista.

Thanks to Android, T-Mobile tripled its smartphone user base in one year. Evidence again of a secular shift to smartphones and the value of Android as gap-filler for Apple’s inability/unwillingness to satisfy demand.