Interview with Bruno Ferrari of Exame magazine Brazil

My thanks to Bruno Ferrari of Exame magazine Brazil for asking the following questions. My answers were written two weeks ago on April 2nd.

Based on financial data of the first fiscal quarter, it is possible to confirm that 2012 will be the best year in Apple’s history?

Actually, it’s possible to confirm without looking at first quarter data. Every business line Apple has except the iPod is growing and is likely to keep growing during this year. That means that sales will increase over 2011, which was Apple’s biggest year. You can see historic sales growth data here:

 What are your predictions for the second fiscal quarter?

I published my predictions here.

The iPhone number seems to be higher than consensus. It’s aggressive but I’m basing my opinion on the launch of the iPhone 4S in China and the Chinese New Year and new carrier agreement there. Also the iPad will do quite well.

Do you think Apple will hold the iPhone 5 launch to September in order to open 2013 with an extraordinary result?

The next iPhone will launch between June and September. It might be earlier due to the 4S being the “wide end of the egg”. Think of the iPhone as an egg rolling down the hill. There is a sharp end and a wide end and the speed of rolling depends on which end is down.

Besides the iPhone 5, which products that Apple could announce in 2012 you think may help them to maintain this extraordinary growth?

I think the iPhone is becoming more predictable. What I’m more curious about is what they will do with the iPod. Apple takes its brands seriously. I am watching the iMac, MacBook and iPod for clues of a re-fresh or replacement as they have aged.

Do you think we will see the “iTv”? Do you think it could be “the next iPad” of technology market?

Apple TV is in waiting mode. It’s like an airplane circling, waiting to land. Something will happen but not sure when. Fundamentally, the opportunities are still there but the entertainment industry is very complex. The more complicated it is the more necessary for an entrant is to create a parallel version of it. That takes time.

The building blocks are all there however. See additional thoughts here.

If we analyze the growth of Apple in recent years, it is supported by the launch of new products, especially the iPhone and the iPad. Do you think Apple can lower your rate of growth in coming years since we don’t see in its roadmap new innovative products like a new smartphone or a new iPad?

New products created new growth but iterations of those products also created and will continue to create growth. Of all of Apple’s products only one product is not growing today, the iPod. And that is after 10 years in the market and with a “dominant” market share. In addition, Apple has a lot of room to expand internationally and into enterprise and professional sectors.

I do agree that 100% growth is hard to maintain without new products. I believe there might be a few products still waiting for launch. TV is one area (along with game-based entertainment). New user interfaces might be enabling new categories of products. Intelligent assistance and companionship are open problems that software can solve but which have not been productized.

When do you think we’ll stop to see Job’s legacy in Apple new products. And what then?

Jobs’ legacy is not in specific products but in how products are built. He also taught the importance of putting products first and markets second (this is, at its base, an artistic principle, not a commercial one). I think that legacy can last forever, if managed properly.

How do you analyze the dividends pay and the buyback made this month?

I wrote some thoughts about it here. I believe the impact will be mostly psychological for investors.

And finally, I was reading at Asymco some analysis of Apple’s share price. Do you think $600 is enough? Do you think in a 1 trillion dollars company in 2014 as some analysts are saying?

The share price depends on the psychology of people. I like to say that Apple is the same exact company today as the one that was priced at $78/share three years ago. When I look out the window of my office I see the same view year-to-year. When I look on my computer screen at Apple’s financials I also see the same view year-to-year. I don’t know how people can see Apple differently one year to the next. To me it’s like looking out the window and seeing mountains instead of the sea.

But this is how markets behave. I can’t say what the price will be. It may be $1000 or it may be zero. But the company will not change in either case. It won’t change because it does not need to change.