"Mad Money" host Jim Cramer interviewed Apple CEO Tim Cook on Wednesday about Apple's recent earnings report, plans to create U.S. manufacturing jobs, and more. This is a full transcript, lightly edited for clarity.
Cramer: Tim, last year at this time we sat down, the stock was at $93, the headlines were all about how the company's best days were behind it. You said that "the customers loved the product, as long as they do, then I'm not gonna worry." Do you feel vindicated?
Tim Cook: "You know, I didn't really worry about what people were saying then because I care very much about our users, and I strongly believe that if they're happy over the long term, other things will take care of itself. And so we had a lot of confidence and it's good to be here today. But we don't really look at the stock, you know? Because for us, it's about the long term. And so we're very much focused on long term shareholder value, but not the short term kind of stuff."
But there has to be a sense, when you read that the company is dead, that it's a bit unfair.
"Well, I just thought it was absurd."
"And people just not understanding the company."
Do people understand the headlines today that it was a disappointing quarter even though every company in the world would kill for what you just did?
"Yeah. I look at that, honestly, and we had a great quarter. If you get into the numbers just a little bit for a few minutes, the Mac grew 14 percent. This is huge. Services continued this really fast growth. It grew 18 percent year on year and we continue to be on target to be a Fortune 100 company this year with our services business. The watch almost doubled year on year. iPhone grew in revenue sense because the iPhone 7 Plus was just off the charts. It's so incredibly popular, so much more popular than we planned. We knew we had a killer product, but so many people love Portrait mode and the large, beautiful screen and all the other aspects of the phone, and it's become such an integral part of their life that a lot of people are loving that 7 Plus. And so we grew strongly in four out of five of the operating segments, of the geographic segments. We didn't grow in China, but we did remarkably better than we did over the second half of last year, which is what we expected, and it's what we delivered. And we feel that we'll do even better this quarter."
Let's think about that notion of the consumer and what you care about. Let's say a consumer product company had 5 percent organic growth, 10 percent earnings per share, beat by $0.08, and at the same time had price increases when all consumer products companies are struggling with price decreases. I believe that you would sell at 24 times earnings, which coincidentally, is the same price-to-earnings multiple of Clorox, which is a bleach company. Do you find it somewhat ironic that the most basic commodity has a much higher price-to-earnings multiple than the greatest consumer product of all time?
"You know, for us, we look at that and we say, you know, we can invest in our company and invest in our stock and we do believe it's undervalued. And so we're buying it back, and so from that point of view there's an opportunity in that as well. But over the long haul, I think it will, I strongly believe that it'll be at a fair value. And so, you know, that's how we look at it."
But is it reasonable to think it's the greatest consumer product technology company as opposed to a razor blade that sells at 23 times earnings?
"I think the iPhone is the best consumer product ever. That's what I feel about it. And it's become so integrated and integral to our lives, you wouldn't think about leaving home without it. It's- your health data is there, it's- you're paying with it from an Apple Pay point of view, you're messaging your friends, the community that you're a part of. It's your navigation system. It's your news. For many people, they've moved all of their video to watching on a mobile product. And, you know, the iPhone is at the center of that."
Plus, clearly, is a cord-cutter.
"Absolutely. Absolutely. And so there's so many of these things that it has, that- it's so integrated into all aspects of your life, that I think- I don't know that there is a consumer product that's made such a profound change in people. And with the ecosystem behind it, the fact that it's unleashed millions of developers to develop their passion and provide to customers something that they've been, maybe it's been a hobby for them, but now they're unleashing it around the world. And it's unbelievable."
But on the conference call you mentioned two troubling issues. You talked about how we are working on getting China better. And then you also talked about the idea that yes, people are holding back. Some are waiting, perhaps because of a new phone. These were things you addressed. So I'd like to just flesh them out with the people who watch who own the phone who are confused by this.
"I think the last one is kind of simple, honestly. It's that there are more rumors floating and more press articles and mentions of new things, and when that happens, a percentage of people delay. And so, yeah, we see a piece of that. That probably affects us more in China than other places because there's a tendency there to buy the latest thing, although I have to say, the 7 Plus has done extraordinarily well there, and it's up double-digit from the previous year, comparing to the previous generation product. But we didn't do as well on some of the previous generation iPhones there, and we're looking at why and trying to address that."
Now, the 7 Plus, had you had enough, the quarter would've been a different-looking quarter.
"No, I wouldn't say that, because I feel that we were in supply-demand balance at the beginning of the quarter. But when I back up from China, what I see is the Mac business grew 20 percent. You know, this is extraordinary. The Watch grew nicely. Services is just on a tear there. Chinese developers have really done a great job of delivering apps that people really want there. And so there's a whole set of things that's going well, and we just have to get them all to head. In the scheme of things, though, you know, if you back up from it, we're probably, we're one of the largest foreign companies there. And we're really proud to be there and serve the market, and we're going to keep working on it."
You've mentioned the service revenue stream several times. I think, okay, so you have say 150 million, which is a conservative number, of subscribers who, like me, don't even look at the price of the bill like we do for Netflix and Amazon. I'm thinking, what else can you put in there? I know that you've been talking original content. I know there's the possibility of using some of the $256 billion you have to augment that stream. The stream is one that we are very excited about on Wall Street, and the consumer is excited about. Wouldn't it be a natural to put more money on that horse and bet that I could change the complexion of the company's valuation?
"First of all, for this year, we think we can become a Fortune 100 company without adding something new, so that's looking at our existing sort of services. We've also said that we're going to double the services business. Our objective is to double by 2020. And, you know, that projection is a sum of new services and existing services. On video in particular, we see that the video world has kind of hit an air pocket. And where cord-cutting has been happening on some kind of basis, we think it's accelerating massively and that it's clear what the end story looks like here. The trajectory is a debate. But we'd like to play in this. Because we do think that the best experience for a customer is to view things when they want, the way they want, and have many different additional information around what they're watching, you know, not just the linear TV feed. And so we are working on some original content now. We're learning, and we'll see where this takes us."
Now, is there a possibility that someone could say, "You know what? These numbers are great. Samsung had the fire phone, and now they've got a new edition." But meantime you've picked up a lot of your ecosystem. You've always talked about people switching to Apple. Are you concerned about people switching back to Samsung?
"No, we don't see much of that. We don't want to see any of that, and we try really hard to retain people by giving them an experience that they really love. That's our objective. But generally speaking we measure that fairly closely, and we don't see very much of that. On the switcher side, we were very pleased that we set a record for switchers outside of China for the first six months of this fiscal year. As you know, we start in October and we just finished the first half in March. And we set a record there and we set a record for upgraders across the world. And so this felt really good."