All eyes on the Iphone…

July 25, 2007

images-21.jpegIn a few short hours, Apple (AAPL) will report on Iphone sales and it is already interesting to read about some of the explanations on why the number will differ from the one reported by AT&T (T) yesterday. That’s because according to this Bloomberg story, AT&T reported activations while Apple “will count sales made to AT&T for distribution and iPhones in transit to AT&T” which sounds an awful lot like the “out the door” accounting method. Footnoted regulars know about my own Iphone experience. It will be interesting to see how the numbers stack up.

Almost as interesting — and getting no attention due to the Iphone — is the OIBDA number that AT&T reported in the morning and then corrected later in the afternoon. Not familiar with OIBDA? It’s a twist on one of my old favorites, EBITDA, and means operating income before depreciation and amortization. The correction was relatively minor — SG&A using OIBDA was really 2.92 billion instead of the $2.89 billion reported initially. But oddly enough — call it accounting magic — the end number, total operating expenses, was exactly the same in both cases.

Also interesting is the use of OIBDA in the first place. In this helpful exhibit, AT&T explains why the number is an important measure of wireless metrics. But it’s a number that the company has only been using for about a year now. And, it’s a number that some of its other competitors, including Verizon (VZ) don’t seem to be using. Indeed, a quick scan of the filings doesn’t turn up a lot of companies — in the wireless business or many other businesses — who seem to use this metric.

Now, back to the wait for those Iphone numbers…

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