Strategic and Financial Analysis: Case of Apple
Apple Inc. is a U.S. multinational company specializing in designing and selling different types of electronic products that include computer software, personal computers, and range of hand-held electronic gadgets. Over the years, Apple has grown to be an iconic designer of consumer electronic products. Established by Steve Jobs in 1976, however, Apple's business nearly collapsed in1980s because of the stiff competitions from other companies. In 1990s, Apple was forced to design an innovative personal computer and entered the fragmented DM (digital music) industry using a diverse set of a distribution channel. (Apple, 2014).
In the last decades, Apple has recorded an unparallel success in digital music players, and iTunes software. Apple uses a sophisticated distribution strategy to achieve competitive market advantages in the electronic industry. Presently, Apple sells its products globally through the retail stores, and online stores, which assist the company to generate annual profit of more than $182 Billion at the end of the 2014 fiscal year. Recently, Apple releases the "Boot Camp" software that makes Apple's personal computer to be run in both Apple operating system and Windows. The new flexibility of Apple's architecture makes the company to become a leader in both personal computer and digital media. Despite the success that Apple has recorded in the last few years, the company is still facing stiff competitions with other companies operating in PC industry.
Objective of this project is to develop Apple strategic analysis. The paper analyzes Apple external environment to enhance a greater understanding how the company has been operating in the economic and political environments.
Analysis of External Environment
Apple operates in a competitive business environment. The political, economic, legal and social-cultural environments are used to analyze the environment that Apple is operating.
Economic: Apple Inc. has its headquarter in the United States, a country with one of the best economy in the world. Moreover, American standard of living is one of the highest in the world, which assists Apple to enjoy superior market advantages. Apple also takes the advantages of the U.S. economic development to raise capital from banks and shares from the public. Apple also operates in multiple countries in Europe and Asia with varied economic developments. For example, Apple uses the cheap labor in Asia to manufacture its products to reduce the costs of operations.
Political: Apple operates in a stable political environment because the United States is one of the most politically stable countries in the world. The U.S. political stability assists the management to plan without fear of political turbulence that can destabilize the Apple strategic planning. Lei and Slocum (2010) argue that politics have a great impact on a business practice, and influence business activities. For example, recently, the UK government imposed 20% increase on VAT, and the decision can reduce the overall consumers spending. (Thomson, & Baden-Fuller, 2010). Since Apple is operating in multiple countries, government decisions on issues such as imposition of taxation on business can have impact on Apple business activities.
Competitive Environment: Apple faces a stiff competition with companies operating in multiple industries that the company is operating. Apple is facing a stiff competition with companies such as Hewlett Packard, IBM, Dell, Microsoft and other companies manufacturing the personal computer.
Socio-cultural: Thornton, Domingo and Urbano (2011) identify socio-cultural factors influencing business practice as attitudes, cultural practice, and preference. Based on these socio-cultural factors, Apple is forced to design its products to match the tastes and preferences of consumers. For example, Apple customizes its services using the current art of technology to design iPad and iPod that matches the tastes of younger generations.
Technological Environment: Apple operates in a superior technological environment that assists the company to design superior and innovative products. (Porter, 2006). Moreover, Apple uses the superior technology to implement its entire value chain that includes warehousing design, procurement of raw materials, and management of business logistics. Moreover, Apple uses the internet technology to carry out B2B (Business-to-Business) and B2C (Business-to-Consumer) business interactions.
Apple Current Strategies
Apple uses the cost leadership strategy to design its product in the United States and manufactures them in the low cost country such as China to achieve competitive market advantages. (Porter, 2006). Moreover, Apple uses pool of talented and skilled...
Apple also designs and manufactures different categories of products that match various consumer preferences. For example, Apple manufactures personal computer, mobile phones, iPad, iPod and different software products. The strategic choice has made Apple to enjoy superior financial performances. (Lei, & Slocum, 2010).
This section uses various ratio analyses to carry out the financial analysis of Apple Inc. The profitability ratios, liquidity ratios and operating ratios are used for the analysis. The Table 1 reveals the profitability ratios of the Apple Inc. between, 2009 and 2014.
Table 1: Profitability Ratio
Return on Sales
Gross profit margin
Operating profit margin
Net profit margin
Return on Investment
ROE (Return on equity)
ROA (Return on assets)
The gross margin reveals percentages of revenue used to cover the operating expenditures. Between 2012 and 2013, Apple gross margin deteriorated, however, improved between 2013 and 2014. The overall profitability ratios improve within the last 5 years. For example, the ROE was 20.49% in 2009, however, improved to 35.4% in 2014. Similarly, the ROA of Apple Inc. improved between 2009 and 2014. The Apple net profit margin also improved between 2009 and 2014. Between 2009 and 2014, Apple net profit was 15.6% in 2009 and increase to 26.7% in 2012, slightly declined to 21.6% in 2014.
However, the Apple short-term operating ratios deteriorated in the last 5 years as being revealed in Table 2. For example, the inventory turnover declined from 111.1 in 2011 to 53.2 at the end of 2014 fiscal year. However, the working capital turnover significantly improved between 2009 (2.15) and 2014 (36.0).
Table 2: Apple Inc. Short-term Operating Ratios
Working capital turnover
Average Number. Of Days
inventory processing period
Receivable collection period
Less: Payables payment period
Cash conversion cycle
In table 3, the liquidity ratios reveal the financial health of Apple Inc. The current ratio of Apple within the last 5-year reveals that Apple has ability to settle its financial obligations within 12 months. However, the company current ratio and quick ratio deteriorated between 2009 and 2010. The current ratio was 2.7 in 2009 and decreased to 1.2 in 2014. Similarly, the quick ratio declined from 2.4 in 2009 to 0.9 in 2014.
Table 3: Liquidity Ratios
If Apple continues to implement the current strategy, the company growth rates are likely decline in the next 5 years, which can make Apple to lose its competitive edges. The Table 4 shows that Apple growth rate deteriorated between 2010 and 2014. The Apple sales growth was 52% in 2010 however, declined to 7% in 2014. Similarly, EPS growth rate was 67% in 2010, however, decline to 7% in 2014.
TABLE 4: Apple Growth Rate
Operating Income Growth
Apple is required is to implement the hybrid strategy to integrate the cost leaderships to achieve differentiation advantages. Apple should redesign its mobile phones from small screen iPhone to a large screen iPhone to compete favorable with companies such as Samsung, LG, Nokia and other manufacturers of large screen mobile phones. Moreover, Apple should redesign its computer laptops to make the products affordable to both middle earners and low-income earners. At present, the Apple computer laptops are more expensive than the HP and Dell laptop products. The company should make its products affordable to various categories of customers.
4. Competitors Strategies
The competitors of Apple Inc. use various strategies to compete in the business environment. First, Samsung is a leader in designing the large screen mobile phones that command high market advantages. Samsung is overtaking Apple in the sales of…
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