Angela Ahrendts’ Apple departure points to wider mystery

“The surprise departure of Apple’s retail chief, Angela Ahrendts, leaves two questions. Why did she leave? And had she done a good job? Investors can’t know the answer to either,” Robert Cyran writes for Reuters Breakingviews. “The $821 billion smartphone maker has a penchant for hiding information that investors would find useful. The lack of clarity helps explain the valuation discount hanging over its stock.”

“Ahrendts received $170 million in compensation in her five-year stint at Apple,” Cyran writes. “The company stopped breaking out the sales and profitability of its stores years ago, so outsiders are left guessing on performance. They can’t see whether Ahrendts’ departure, announced on Tuesday, signifies problems or a mission satisfactorily completed.”

“The stock trades at just 14 times estimated earnings, according to Refinitiv data, a lowly rating for a tech company,” Cyran writes. “Disclosing more might persuade the market the future is brighter than they thought. In any case it might earn Apple some credit for giving a fuller picture.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: One problem with Apple’s valuation is that the market is still valuing Apple as just a hardware company when it is so, so, so much more than that – and always has been. The sale of an Apple device to a customer isn’t the end of the relationship, but the beginning. It’s the ecosystem, stupid.

I don’t really think that Apple was ever a hardware company, even at the beginning of time. — Tim Cook, February 2015

Another problem is that Apple has lost its ability to bend and shape perception and media coverage at will, mainly due to replacing the dynamic and riveting Steve Jobs with the boringly milquetoast Tim Cook. “He’s a nice guy who cares” simply doesn’t command the same level of attention as a white-hot Jobsian visionary.

People hung on Jobs’ every word because he was often predicting their future. The only people hanging on Tim Cook’s every word are those with an overexposure to AAPL in their portfolios.

26 Comments

  1. AA paid the price for the following.

    Investing in super glam locations only that are amazing – but cost millions and serve only a fraction of people. Some of those stores will take a decade to break even.
    Investing hundreds of Million into a Today at a Apple programme that is used by only a couple of % of users. ‘How to draw a tree house’ anyone? What Apple needs is sessions on everyday issues such as privacy, battery, photo management, email settings, MDM services for business etc. alongside a few glamour ones.
    Restructuring the team wrongly. It don’t take a Pro to sell an iPhone. They sell themselves if marketed and priced right. Millions more have been spent on internal payroll, failing to understand that for a single unit consumer sale – it sells itself on stage, not in store. AA also removed direct support for SMB and enterprise by taking dedicated Business Managers off the retail structure, SMB being a key area where they could have grown market if invested in properly.

    AA was rightly loved but became a luxury even Apple couldn’t afford. How they roll some of the above back will be fascinating during 2019.

  2. As an ex retail employee I can say that the stores suck unless you are young (I am not) and full of energy (still not) and drink all the kool-aid without question. When One to One ended we (Creatives) were told that we wouldn’t be fired. What the store leader didn’t say is that the work environment would become so toxic that we would want to quit.

    Apple changed from a company that truly cared about its previous core customers in the creative community that kept it afloat for ages, to a company only interested in the bottom line.

    Yeah, I’m bitter. I was not ready, or old enough, to retire but that’s life.

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