Apple Takes Heat After 'Major Dent' To Sales Transparency

As iPhone unit sales continue to stagnate, Apple discloses it will no longer report unit sales metrics for its three major hardware businesses.


Apple's stock price sank Friday after the company disclosed that it will no longer provide a much-followed metric on its sales in the future.

During a quarterly call with analysts Thursday, Apple executives said that the company will no longer provide unit sales data for its iPhone, iPad and Mac businesses. The change will start with the current quarter, which is Apple's first quarter of fiscal 2019.

[Related: Apple Sees 'Strong' Mac Sales Ahead Of Air And Mini Refreshes]

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"A unit of sale is less relevant for us today than it was in the past, given the breadth of our portfolio and the wider sales price dispersion within any given product line," Apple CFO Luca Maestri said during the call Thursday, explaining the change.

Wall Street analysts immediately questioned the move, both during the call itself and in notes to investors after the call.

"The Street will find this a tough pill to swallow this morning as the transparency of the Cupertino story takes a major dent given that tracking iPhone units has become habitual to any investor that has closely followed the Apple story for the last decade[-plus] and is critical to the thesis," wrote Daniel Ives, managing director for equity research at Wedbush Securities, in a note following Apple's quarterly report.

Apple's stock price dropped 5.7 percent at the open of the markets Friday, opening at $209.55. That's down from Apple's close of $222.22 on Thursday, and represented a loss of $61.2 billion in market value.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment from CRN.

The end of reporting on unit sales comes as Apple has been seeing little growth in units in its iPhone business. In its fourth fiscal quarter, Apple sold 46.9 million iPhone units, representing a less than 1 percent increase from the same period a year earlier, when 46.7 million iPhone units were sold.

In his note to investors, Ives called it a "jaw-dropper" that Apple would choose to end reporting on unit sales.

"The skeptics will point to Apple doing this right at the critical juncture where higher [average selling prices] are making up for slower unit sales which remains the worry and the stock will get hit accordingly this morning," Ives said.

Revenue for iPhone jumped 28.9 percent during the fourth fiscal quarter, reaching $37.19 billion, thanks to higher-priced devices in the lineup such as the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max.

Overall for the fourth fiscal quarter, Apple reported revenue of $62.9 billion, up 19.6 percent from $52.58 billion a year earlier.