FORTUNE -- Robert Paul Leitao manages a Los Angeles Catholic Church by day, but his real devotion is to Apple (AAPL).
When I first met him, Leitao was running The Mac Observer's Apple Finance Board, which he moved to LinkedIn a few years ago and renamed AAPL Independent Analysts. He also founded the Braeburn Group, and every quarter he pulls together his members' estimates for Fortune's Apple Earnings Smackdown. With all this, he somehow finds time to write his irregular Posts at Eventide, from which the attached charts were taken.
Ever the Apple bull, Leitao begins his latest post -- Walking Up the Down Staircase -- on a positive note. Over the past eight fiscal years, he reminds us, Apple's revenue has risen 1,127% and its earnings per share 2,457%.
But the charts he posted Saturday tell a very different story.
Following two years of extraordinary revenue growth -- 66% in fiscal 2011, and 54% in fiscal 2012 -- Apple's grew only 9.2% in the fiscal year that ended in September 2013 and its guidance for the quarter that ended Saturday suggests no growth at all.
Apple's seemingly unreal rates of revenue growth from FY2010 through FY2012 were due in part to the release of the iPad product line in April 2010, the addition of Verizon Wireless as an authorized carrier in February 2011 and the mass consumer migration from feature phones to smartphones that occurred over the three-year period.
Apple's decline in earnings per share in FY2013 was influenced by the company's very strong prior-year performance. Although Apple reported 9.2% revenue growth in the period, the drop in gross margin year-over-year produced negative net income growth and a decline in earnings per share...
While much speculation continues about Apple's plans for new products, with the start of the June quarter, Apple's cycle of negative net income growth has come to end with or without new product lines.
Nonetheless, as the graphs in this article illustrate, on a forward-looking basis fast rates of revenue and net income growth are dependent on the successful release of new and currently unannounced new products. Apple is an episodic enterprise. Revenue growth rates and organic net income growth will be challenged in fiscal years absent the delivery of new products.
For the record, Leitao expects Apple to deliver those new products before the end of the year.
For more charts and more analysis, see Apple Is Walking Up The Down Staircase.
Buying back shares will boost EPS and save Apple $1.5 billion a year in dividends.
FORTUNE -- By the time it decided in April to increase its stock buyback program five fold -- from $10 billion to $60 billion -- Apple (AAPL) already spent $1.95 billion of the original $10 billion fund and had bought and retired nearly 4.1 million shares of Apple common stock. Average share price, according to the MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - May 13, 2013 8:35 AM ET
It ends this week. Investors might as well get ready for the negative headlines.
FORTUNE -- The bad news is that every analyst we've surveyed -- even the most bullish -- believes that for the first time in a decade Apple (AAPL) will report that its income this quarter was lower than the same quarter the year before.
According to Thomson Financial, the consensus EPS for fiscal Q2 2013 on Friday was MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Mar 24, 2013 9:43 AM ET
The law of large numbers says it must. Not anytime soon, says Robert Paul Leitao.
The law of large numbers as applied to finance (as opposed to flipping a coin) says that as a company grows, its chances of sustaining large percentage revenue gains diminish. That's because an expanding enterprise must grow faster and faster just to maintain a constant percentage growth rate. Indeed, a company growing 30% to 50% a MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Aug 5, 2010 8:49 AM ET
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