Apple blows past Wall Street forecasts in fiscal Q4, but shares drop

iPad sales fall short of estimates, despite overall record quarterly revenue

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Fueled by record revenue from the sales of the iPhone 4 and iPad tablet, Apple Inc. on Monday reported fiscal fourth quarter earnings that easily exceeded Wall Street forecasts.

Nonetheless, shares of Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) tumbled in after-hours trading because sales of the iPad missed analysts' estimates. Apple was trading at 299.30, 5.9 percent below Monday's close -- a record high, BTW -- of $318, and just five days after Apple share's broke $300 for the first time. (Check the chart in the linked post that shows Apple's dramatic stock market success since the return of Steve Jobs as CEO in 1997.)

Apple reported Q4 earnings of $4.31 billion, or $4.64 per share, a 70 percent increase over last year's fourth quarter earnings of $2.53 billion, or $2.77 per share. Revenue was a record $20.34 billion, an increase of 67 percent over the year-ago's $12.21 billion.

Analysts estimates called for net income of $4.10 per share on revenue of $18.9 billion.

But it was the missed estimate that caused Wall Street to punish Apple shares. While the iPhone's 14.1 million units sold for Q4 was 91 percent more than last year's fourth quarter and well above analyst estimates of 11.5 million units, the new iPad didn't fare as well. The tablet racked up 4.2 million in sales, but analysts expected 4.8 million to be sold.

Oh, and remember those other things Apple used to sell? What did they call them...computers? The company sold 3.9 million Macintoshes in Q4, up 27 percent from a year ago.

For its December quarter, Apple forecast revenue of $23 billion and net income of $4.80 per share. The earnings guidance was far below consensus forecasts of $5.03 a share, but Apple traditionally offers conservative estimates, so it's not likely that moved shares down after hours.

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