Facebook could learn a thing or two from Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) — specifically, how to back up the hype.
A day after the social network revealed a disappointing quarterly performance in its S-1, Apple turned on the afterburners with its Q2 report.
Earnings of $11.6 billion were almost double last year’s profits and, at $12.30 per share, crushed Wall Street estimates of $10.04 per share. Revenues of $39.2 billion were up almost 60% (note: Facebook’s growth rate was just 45%) from the year-ago period and also cleared estimates for $36.8 billion.
Once again, Apple looks more like a hot startup than most startups — and certainly not like a company that has been around since the ’70s.
Going into the earnings report, there was lots of trepidation on the part of investors. Since a peak at $636 on April 9, the stock fell by 11% — good for a whopping drop of $71 billion in market cap — and even dropped an even 2% Tuesday before the report.
Investors clearly aren’t worried now. AAPL shares were up about 7% in early after-hours trading.
One of the previous concerns about Apple was the possibility that AT&T (NYSE:T) and Verizon (NYSE:VZ) were moving away from the iPhone. While this might be true, it didn’t make much of an impact in Q2 — Apple sold a whopping 35.1 million iPhones in the quarter, 88% better than a year ago.
Of course, the company also saw strength in the iPad, which saw unit sales of 11.8 million — a growth rate of 151%. And consider that the iPad 3 was sold for only a couple weeks in the quarter.
Apple’s pricing and negotiating powers have translated into impressive gross margins, which have increased from 41.4% to 47.4% in the past year. Apple also generated $14 billion in cash flows from operations, so now the company has a fat $110 billion — with a “B” — in the bank.
And despite the growth, Apple still has a valuation of just 15 times earnings, which is pretty cheap in light of the company’s sizzling growth rate. Consider that blue chips like McDonald’s (NYSE:MCD) and Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO) have heftier valuations — and while they’re successful, their growth rates aren’t even in the same universe as Apple’s.
Looking ahead, Apple is expected to launch the iPhone 5 in the fall, which is sure to go gangbusters. The company should continue to get traction in burgeoning China, too, and its deal with China Mobile (NYSE:CHL) is likely to provide lots of room for growth.
And don’t forget — Apple soon will sport a roughly 1.7% dividend (based on current valuations).
Tech is never a sure thing. But Apple comes as close as you can get.
Tom Taulli runs the InvestorPlace blog IPO Playbook, a site dedicated to the hottest news and rumors about initial public offerings. He also is the author of “The Complete M&A Handbook”, “All About Short Selling” and “All About Commodities.” Follow him on Twitter at @ttaulli or reach him via email. As of this writing, he did not own a position in any of the aforementioned securities.