Apple Shares Dip On Margin Outlook For 2011


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Now for some other business news.  You may have caught word that yesterday Apple announced that it “expects to experience decreases in its gross margin percentage in future periods, as compared to levels achieved during 2010,” due to a mix of new products that cost the company more to produce and an expectation that product components and other costs will rise.  On the flip side though, the company also saw a hiring boost in their annual report that was filed with the SEC.

Apple is expecting a 36 percent first-quarter margin, which would be down from the 37.5 percent that analysts, who were polled by Thomson Reuters expect, on average.

On this news, AAPL dropped .66, or about 1.5 percent, to 3.17 a share in afternoon trading according to ABC News.

Despite the seemingly bad news, analysts didn’t think it to be all bad.

Shaw Wu, an analyst with Kaufman Bros. said in his note to investors today that there wasn’t any new guidance in Apple’s 10-K, and that he thinks any drop in shares should only give cause to buy more shares of the stock.

Wu felt that Apple’s remarks in their filing were on par with each annual report that it has filed about the upcoming fiscal year “as far as we can remember.” 

He continued, “those fixated on cautious gross margin commentary in its 10-K filing in previous years would missed out on a significant investment opportunity in the last 5-7 years.”

Despite the lower margins, the news wasn’t all bad.  Apple appeared to have gone on a slight hiring spree.  According to the New Mexico BusinessWeekly, the filing also revealed that Apple had 46,600 full-time employees on Sept. 25, which was much higher than the 34,300 in 2009 and 32,000 in 2008. 

That jump in jobs was mainly in the retail area, as Apple had 26,500 employees, a 10,000 increase from 2009.  Apple also now has 317 retail stores, compared to 273 from last year.

On the horizon, Apple is planning to open up 40 to 50 new stores next year, and more than half of those would be outside the U.S. 

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