Is Apple really recession-proof?
American Technology Research analyst Shaw Wu upgraded Apple today, roughly two weeks' shy of the end of the company's first quarter. Nothing unusual there. But checking in with his supply chain, Wu came away so impressed that he wrote the following:
"So far, our sense is that the Mac business appears to be recession proof. We were already looking for robust Mac unit growth of 38 percent Y/Y, but now we think it may be closer to 42 percent."
Wu's as good a stock analyst as any in his segment but can any tech company be recession-proof--especially considering all the upset on Wall Street? That would be a first. When I speak with tech executives to find out how things are doing, caution is the byword du jour.
That even extends to something like Business Intelligence (BI) software, an area you would normally think would qualify as close to being recession-proof. But even there, companies are being "very careful" about what they're buying and want to "make sure they get the most from what they already have," according to Bill Hewitt, the CEO of Kalido, a BI provider with a global customer list.
Back to Apple.
The announcement of native Microsoft Exchange support for the iPhone along with a software developers kit will ultimately open up more doors into Corporate America. But that's in the long term.
In the short term, Apple's fortunes still depend on the consumer. Here's where it's getting interesting. Wu claims the following:
Thin is apparently in with MacBook Air sales picking up momentum. When I visit the local Apple stores, I keep finding crowds of goobers drooling over the units. This is all anecdotal and obviously may not be worth the price of tea. Still....
Recent iPod shuffle price cuts are working and iPod unit sales are on the "upper-end" of 9.5 to 10 million units.
Despite a "pause" in advance of the June shipment of the iPhone 2.0, Apple's on track to reach--and surpass--its 10 million unit target by the end of 2008
He also believes Apple is receiving favorable benefit on what the company now pays for NAND flash, DRAM, and HDDs compared with the previous quarter. That could help bump up profit margins a little, a development, which if true, would be received by the Wall Street crowd as manna from heaven.
Can Apple pull it off? Count me as a skeptic, but Steve Jobs has proved me wrong so many times before, maybe here's another one to add to the list.