(Here’s a quick digression from our usual topics to put a truly remarkable business accomplishment into perspective.)
Apple’s recently-announced financial results for Fiscal Q1 of 2012 (the 4th quarter of calendar year 2011) are currently all over the news. Apple reported just over $13 billion in quarterly profit, which is more than Google’s entire revenue, and the second most profit any company has ever recorded in a single quarter. One interesting way to look at this is to break it down into human terms. As in, per-human terms.
Let’s do some quick math:
- Q1 2012 was a 14-week quarter, which gives us 7×14 = 98 days.
- $13.06 billion in quarterly profit / 98 days = roughly $133 million in profit per day in Q1
- According to the US Census Bureau, there are about 313 million people in the USA and 6.99 billion people in the world.
- So, for the USA, in the quarter Apple made $0.42 of profit per person per day. That’s $41.72 of profit in the quarter for every man, woman, and child in the USA. At an annualized rate, that’s $155 per person per year.
- Accounting for all the people in the world, Apple made $0.019 (1.9 cents) of profit per person per day. That’s $1.87 of profit in the quarter for every person on Earth. At an annualized rate, that’s $6.94 in profit for every human being on the planet.
Of course, not everyone in the US is an Apple customer, much less the world. And, these estimates don’t break down Apple’s US vs. Global income. Still, it’s an interesting way to put such a large profit figure in perspective.
Perhaps one reason for Apple’s chronically depressed price/earnings ratio compared to other companies with similar growth metrics is that there’s only so much disposable income in the world, and at Apple’s current size and growth rates, they’ll start to run into fundamental economic limits, like a giant sucking all the air out of a sealed room.
Maybe. But my money is still on the theory that the investing world still doesn’t get Apple — it can’t understand how superior products can continue to beat the copycats, and, more to the point, it can’t actually recognize superior products. Customers, however, seem to be able to recognize them just fine.