Apple: A Compounding Machine Slowing Down

Apple: A Compounding Machine Slowing Down

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is on the rostrum for being among the many most well-known, highest-market capitalized and worthwhile firms on this planet. It usually wants no introduction, however because it says in its 10-Ok submitting:

“Apple revolutionized private know-how with the introduction of the Macintosh in 1984. Right this moment, Apple leads the world in innovation with iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch, and Apple TV. Apple’s 5 software program platforms iOS, iPadOS, macOS, watchOS, and tvOS present seamless experiences throughout all Apple gadgets and empower individuals with breakthrough companies together with the App Retailer, Apple Music, Apple Pay, and iCloud. Apple’s greater than 100,000 workers are devoted to creating one of the best merchandise on earth, and to leaving the world higher than we discovered it.”

At its core, the corporate has this double technique of producing and promoting each the {hardware} (PCs, tablets, smartphones and equipment) in addition to the software program.

Phase breakdown

The corporate is split in to 2 essential companies: Merchandise (principally {hardware}) and Providers, which make up the massive $383 billion in income. Apple additional divides its enterprise into 5 classes. The iPhone has the lion share of all of it with 52.20% of web gross sales, adopted by Providers (22.20%) after which the opposite {hardware}/merchandise, Wearable, Dwelling and Equipment (10.40%), Mac (7.60%) and iPad (7.40%).

What does Apple imply by companies, precisely? Nicely, the record is lengthy and chances are high you recognize all of them, however they embody promoting (together with third-party licensing preparations and the corporate’s personal promoting platforms), AppleCare (a portfolio of fee-based service and assist merchandise), Cloud Providers (with interactions additionally with Home windows private computer systems), Digital Content material (App Retailer, and so on.), subscription-based companies (together with Apple Arcade for video games, Apple Health+SM for customized health, Apple Music, Apple Information+ and Apple TV+ with unique authentic content material and stay sports activities ever increasing). Final however not least are Cost Providers (together with Apple Card, a co-branded bank card not but out there in Italy, and Apple Pay, a cashless fee service based mostly on NFC know-how).

The latest of those companies is Apple Sports activities, which was launched in February. The free app offers real-time scores for sporting occasions, key statistics and betting odds.

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Apple: A Compounding Machine Slowing Down

Supply: Apple’s official web site.

This huge section as an entire represents one of the vital promising development elements because of the loyalty of Apple’s consumer base with varied estimates ranging round 80% and a excessive consumer retention of round 90%.

It is a key issue because the {hardware} a part of the corporate is approaching its saturation (particularly referring to iPhones). As CEO Tim Cook dinner famous within the firm’s newest earnings launch:

“We’re happy to announce that our put in base of energetic gadgets has now surpassed 2.2 billion, reaching an all-time excessive throughout all merchandise and geographic segments.”

Why all of the fuss about companies?

Taking a more in-depth have a look at Apple’s margins for its companies, the outcomes are eye-watering. A 70% gross margin is kind of spectacular for a class nonetheless thought of to be in its development section.

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Apple: A Compounding Machine Slowing Down

Supply: Apple’s 10-Ok.

It’s also essential to say the tech large’s world footprint. Over the previous three years, it has made round half of its gross sales from outdoors the Americas. This implies $93 billion from Europe, plus $72 billion from China, $24 billion from Japan and $29 billion from the remainder of Asia Pacific within the final fiscal 12 months alone. Connected to the extensive variety in its money streams is the sensitivity the corporate has to overseas alternate fluctuations, which may be estimated to be round 3%. Do do not forget that a stronger U.S. greenback results in decrease gross sales, all different elements being equal.

It is a sturdy level in opposition to these saying the corporate is American. Quite, one may argue it’s a really world firm.

Future developments

What about AI?

I’m not certain what Apple’s future holds in respect to synthetic intelligence, however some key elements to think about must be the actual fact the corporate has a confirmed observe document of innovation, an abundance of money sources ($61.50 billion as per the newest fiscal 12 months), a excessive price of strategic acquisitions (reported to have acquired greater than 30 AI firms in 2023) and the supply of large information units to coach machine studying algorithms.

VisionPro anybody?

As for the VisionPro headset, I’m not pricing this fancy new digital actuality product into the valuation but. The motivation is twofold: (a) I’ve not used it but and (b) I don’t totally perceive its true potential, nor does most people. Will it’s just like the iPhone again in 2007 when it launched and Steve Ballmer famously laughed at its excessive price ticket (round $500) with the then-unthinkable lack of a bodily keyboard?

Put together to find it!


As is all the time the case with tech firms, Apple is going through a number of dangers in each the quick time period and long run.

Some new dangers regard the rising likelihood of opening up the App Retailer (as per legislative initiatives, such because the EU Digital Markets Act, the anticompetitive investigation round Epic Video games and Spotify (NYSE:SPOT)), but additionally the rising and sticky China restrictions (as within the gross sales of iPhones).

Final however not least, the crowded smartphone trade, particularly with Asian firms (notably the fierce competitors from Samsung (XKRX: 005930), which just lately already added AI capabilities to its new Galaxy S24 system).


It isn’t simple to worth the inventory. Since one of many firm’s main traits is its record-breaking market capitalization ($2.62 trillion as of the time of writing), valuation by comparability is kind of impractical. It might imply making a variety of assumptions (e.g., economic system of scale, tangibleness of enterprise mannequin), therefore doubtlessly invalidating the outcomes. Apple has undoubtedly maintained a stable steadiness sheet since its founding, however these days this pattern has been inverting.

Since 2019, some widespread monetary energy ratios have decreased, specifically resulting from declining money and equivalents and short-term investments, to the tune of $39 billion over a five-year interval. Accumulating liquidity endlessly was clearly a synonym for poor utilization of sources and a non-desired objective. The time got here to place this enormous pile of money to work throughout the remaining years of the Covid-19 pandemic as inflation and elevated competitors impacted tech shares.

The sterile monetary ratios, with a present ratio of 0.98 and a cash-to-debt ratio of 0.68, solely inform one aspect of the story. On the flip aspect, Apple managed to submit sound enterprise efficiency with a 59% enhance in money from operations and an much more spectacular 68% surge in free money movement over the identical interval from 2019 to 2023. Additionally beware that clever utilization of funds has been a particular characteristic of Apple that averaged a return on invested capital of 25% within the final decade, by no means posting a single-digit determine on this metric.

Given all that, I base my valuation on free money movement and its pattern over the previous 5 years, ranging from a price of $105 billion.

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Apple: A Compounding Machine Slowing Down

Supply: Creator’s calculations.

The corporate makes use of it money largely to repurchase shares. Throughout 2023, $76.60 billion value of widespread inventory was repurchased and it paid $15 billion in dividends. The present dividend yield is kind of low at 0.50%. Not solely is that this good fiscally, but additionally for shareholders.

I imputed totally different development charges for 12 months one to 5 and 6 to 10, in addition to totally different low cost charges and terminal worth multiples in line with 5 hypothesized Mr. Market manic-depression moods. With respect to the broader enterprise worth, the outcomes are stunning.

There isn’t a one state of affairs during which Apple can comfortably be seen as on sale or a attainable purchase.

Assuming the 15.80 billion in totally diluted shares excellent, the overvaluation ranges between 10% and 74%.

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Apple: A Compounding Machine Slowing Down

Supply: Creator’s calculations.

The market is at the moment giving the inventory a price-earnings ratio consistent with the typical for the {hardware} trade of 26, however far more weight is given to the gross sales, as proven by the excessive price-sales ratio of 6.93.


Typically it’s higher to purchase nice firms at honest costs than the opposite approach round (credit to the late Charlie Munger). This time I don’t really feel comfy in regards to the honest worth regardless that I take into account Apple to be nice. The inventory may be thought of overvalued at the moment.

This text first appeared on GuruFocus.

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