Let’s see. You’re a company running into serious global headwinds in a maturing (or mature market) that are raising huge doubts about your ability to increase unit sales quarter to quarter for your core product.
a) Grimly admit that unit sales are stagnant and then lay out your strategy for increasing average selling price and margins,
b) Announced that beginning next quarter you won’t report unit sales of your core product at all.
For some reason, Apple (AAPL) has picked choice B. Starting in fiscal 2019, which means in the December quarter, the company won’t report unit sales of its iPhones (or iPads and Macs.)
The effect not even a week after the announcement of the new reporting standards (and Apple’s September quarter earnings report with its disappointing growth in iPhone unit sales) has been to burn through a lot of good will in the Wall Street analyst and money manager sectors.
And to intensify scrutiny of other non-company sources of information about unit sales. So today, November 5 shares of Apple fell 2.84% on a report from Japan’s Nikkei that Apple had cancelled a planned increase in production for the iPhone XR, the company’s newly introduced and highest margin iPhone. Apple shares have now tumbled more than 10% since the company reported earnings. The Nikkei report said that Apple had told Foxconn Technology and Pegatron to halt plans for additional production lines dedicated to the lower-priced XR. Nikkei said that Foxconn’s production would be down 20% to 25% from earlier projections.
The irony here is that this kind of story about production cut backs is a regular feature of the period after most Apple earnings reports. So in a sense “There’s nothing to be seen here, folks. Move along.” But with Apple focusing attention on unit growth (or a lack thereof) by telling Wall Street that it will stop reporting thee numbers, Apple has made this a BIG story. If you’re an Apple investor–and I hold Apple in my long-term 50 Stocks Portfolio and Apple call options in my Volatility Portfolio–I’m sure your grateful for the way the company has shot itself in the foot.