Apple's Slightly Lower Mac Sales Translates to Huge Win

With the stock market oscillating wildly, with huge declines overnight, and banks suffering massive convulsions, Apple's ever so slight decline in Mac sales and record iPod sales is a huge win for the company in this economy. Apple's stock price at closing and in after hours trading reflects this astounding success story. Now the question is, can that success translate into long term stock gains?

In today's earnings report for Q1 2009, Apple's CFO Peter Oppenheimer and COO Tim Cook revealed that, admidst a serious contraction in PC sales, Apple saw only a minor reduction in Mac sales from last quarter, about 3 percent.

Cum. Mac sales

Comparing to a year ago doesn't make a lot of sense because a year ago, all was rosy, but if we must do the math, Apple still managed a 9 percent growth in Mac sales year over year.

This is an amazing result considering how poorly some other companies are doing -- if they're indeed still in business. That success will drive up Apple's stock, a small candle of hope and optimism. The next question is, of course, can Apple maintain that kind of only modest decline in the next quarter?

In terms of Apple's iPod, they actually set a record, selling 22.7 million iPods in the Christmas quarter. However, the U.S. iPod market contracted by abut 3 percent, year over year. The gains Apple made were international sales. However, Apple will also take that to the bank. Apple is an international company, and worldwide conditions that are a little better help Apple. Other companies should hope to have such a balanced sales approach and appealing products worldwide.

Cum. iPod sales

Even though Apple's report today has to be considered a phenomenal performance for a U.S. company, the question is whether Apple's stock can maintain a long term growth. Lately, every time investors express confidence in a company, day traders and bearish investors seek to extract every penny they can from the market. I fear that Apple (AAPL) will once more settle into the US$80s and remain there.

Until there are more bulls than bears and the optimism of a new U.S. President kicks in, Apple's stock may not be able to sustain a reflection of the brilliant management of the company. That has to be frustrating.