Apple CFO Anderson: Retail Stores "Creating Significant Growth"

Apple Chief Financial Officer Fred Anderson told a gathering of investment analysts on Monday that Apple Computeris retail stores are creating "significant growth" to the companyis bottom line, and that there is optimism profitability will improve through more focused sales techniques.

During a Goldman Sachs Technology Investment Symposium in Phoenix, Arizona, Mr. Anderson, along with Peter Oppenheimer, Appleis Senior Vice President of Finance, talked about the companyis direction in hardware, software and retail operations.

Mr. Anderson said the gross profit margin for Appleis retail stores was 3.3 percent, generating US$9 million in profit on revenues of US$273 million during the latest quarter.

Mr. Anderson said he is "very pleased" with the profitability of the existing 76 stores. "Our stores are creating significant growth for Apple," he said. "Somewhere between 40 and 50 percent, depending on the quarter, of our sales are to non-Mac users, so itis definitely converting switchers to the platform."

Mr. Anderson said the goal now is to increase gross profit margins of the retail stores.

"Weire not making any predictions, but if (store sales people) are able to achieve - and I say IF - the objectives they have for improving same store sales going forward, thatis just going to enhance further the profitability weire enjoining today on the retail stores," he said.

Mr. Anderson repeated that the company has developed a financial model based upon the sales experience of existing stores that can better predict profitability.

"We can predict with a fairly good degree of accuracy the sales of a new MSA (Metropolitan Statistical Area) market that we might be evaluating to enter based upon the sales historically correlated with the Mac base within a 10 to 15 miles radius of a planned store location," Mr. Anderson said. "Itis a pretty good prediction of how much revenue we would be able to do for a store. So we donit plan to open any new stores that we donit believe we have a really good chance to at least break even in the first year of operation."

Mr. Anderson said there were no plans to move or down-size any existing stores, but admitted, "some of the store locations in the first year of operation, had we had it to do over again, we would have put a small store (at 4,000 square feet) rather than a standard store (at 7,000 square feet) because the markets werenit large enough to justify a larger store."

On other issues...

  • Mr. Oppenheimer would not directly answer the question as to the profit margins Apple gets from software, except to say, "the margins that we earn would look very much like a stand-alone software company."
  • Mr. Anderson made it clear that Apple isnit working on porting other software applications to the Windows platform, as it did with iTunes, "but where we think it makes business sense overall for Apple to port software to Windows...then weire open to consider it."

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