News Column

Apple Misses iPhone Forecasts

January 24, 2013

By Scott Martin

Apple missed analysts' iPhone sales forecasts in its key holiday shopping period, pummeling shares lower in after-hours trading. Shares of Apple nose-dived $52.01, or 10%, to $462 in trading after the close of markets, raising new concerns.

Apple reported a profit of $13.1 billion, or $13.81 a share, on $54.5 billion in sales for its fiscal first quarter ended Dec. 29. That compares with a profit of $13.1 billion, or $13.87 a share, on sales of $46.3 billion a year ago.

"Everyone here is laser-focused," CEO Tim Cook said on a conference call. "Everyone at Apple has their eyes on the future."

Apple's revenue guidance for its current quarter, a key measurement, came in light at $41 billion to $43 billion, below expectations for $45.6 billion.

Wall Street had worried the company might stumble and report a dip in profit from last year, signaling a cooling of its business. Concerns also surrounded forward-looking guidance on iPhones as U.S. markets face saturation and the battle for market share shifts to China.

Apple has a "very different approach to a market where everybody else is going in with low-end devices" in China, says Gartner analyst Carolina Milanesi.

Toni Sacconaghi, an analyst for Bernstein Research, asked Apple's chief on the call how a premium-priced Apple product intends to play in markets in 2013.

"Realistically, how does Apple hold share, given that the market segment and price point that you play in is expected to grow a lot slower and you have a dominant share in that high end?" Sacconaghi asked.

"We aren't interested in revenue for revenue's sake," Cook responded.

Apple was expected to earn $12.8 billion in profit, or $13.47 a share, on $54.7 billion in sales in the quarter, according to the survey of estimates from Thomson Reuters. Excluding certain items, Apple's profit of $13.81 a share beat Wall Street's expectations.

Shares of Apple have shaved about 35% from a 52-week high of $705.07.

Still, consumers snapped up 47.8 million iPhones, 22.9 million iPads and 4.1 million Macs in the quarter, compared with 5.2 million Macs sold a year ago. "Despite the declining PC market we were expecting the new Pro and Mac to make more of an impact," Milanesi says.

The analysts were forecasting Apple would report 48.3 million in iPhone sales.

The company was expected to sell about 22 million to 23 million iPads, including the iPad Mini, and more than 5 million Macs in the quarter.

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Source: Copyright USA TODAY 2013

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