Bigger! Better! Faster! More Zeroes!

Apple lays an egg this fiscal quarter, so says the stock market.  After all, it only earned $8.8 billion, a mere 21% increase over last quarter and a 22% increase over this time last year.  I mean, what’s up with that?

And check this out.  From April to June, Apple only shipped 26 million iPhones.  Yeah, whatever.  Last quarter they shipped 35 million of the little wizard devices.  And Wall Street expected them to ship something like 29 million this time around, but no, they had to go and turn into a bunch of slackers and not make it happen.  Losers.

“Only” $8.8 billion.  How anyone can say that with a straight face is beyond me.  Seriously.  The company makes more money than God, but that’s not good enough.  Not for the investor class.  If they can’t see a 90% return on their investment, then screw you.  And sadly, that’s what they are doing, screwing everyone.  Don’t they realize that’s a hell of a lot of money for one company to make in three months?  In the real world, $8.8 billion would go a long way towards solving the budget problems of many jurisdictions:  cities, school districts, counties, even whole states.  Am I missing something here?  I mean, 8.8 billion has a lot of zeroes in it.

8,800,000,000

See?  Eight zeroes.  Count them, eight.  But no, that’s not good enough.  Because of their failures, Apple’s stock price took a hit, falling at least 10 points, bringing it under $600 a share.  How will Tim Cook pay Apple’s electric bill with money like that?

The investor class sounds like the Providers from that silly Star Trek (OG) episode “The Gamesters of Triskelion.”  That’s the one where Kirk, Uhuru, and Chekhov get mysteriously transported to a distant planet and turned into slave gladiators, fighting their fellow slaves for the Providers’ betting amusement.  The Providers bet quatloos on which slave will kill fastest or kill the most or die the fastest, etc.  The more exciting the match, the more they bet.  It’s all corny and pointless, though the story does have cheese appeal.  Kirk manages to woo another alien woman, of course.

Our “Providers,” the barons of the economy, the ones deciding who makes enough, who earns enough, who puts out enough, seem to be playing similar games.  Just replace slave gladiators with zeroes on a ledger.  At this point in time, though, companies can’t seem to earn enough money fast enough to sate our “Providers” appetites.  How many quatloos will it take to make them happy?  Apple certainly isn’t in any real danger of shutting down, but what about other businesses?  Long ago I read that the newspaper industry started having trouble when their profits were “only” in the 20% range.  That wasn’t good enough, so investors started to back out.  What other businesses will have to cut back or fold, killing jobs in the process, just because they didn’t bring a great enough return to satisfy the naked greed of investors?  Once upon a time, a 22% growth rate would have set off champaign corks.  Now it barely merits a smirk.

How many zeroes will it take to make investors happy?  How much is enough?

© 2012, gar. All rights reserved.


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