Continuing a recent string of disappointments, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) revealed weaker-than-expected fiscal fourth-quarter earnings growth of 24% on Thursday, though the tech titan’s sales narrowly topped forecasts. Apple, which is known for giving ultra cautious guidance, also projected results for the current quarter that would widely miss estimates. Shares of the world’s most valuable company dropped 1.07% to $603.29 in after-hours trading, continuing their recent slump. The slide weighed on U.S. stock index futures as well. Apple said it earned $8.2 billion, or $8.67 a share, last quarter, compared with a profit of $6.6 billion, or $7.05 a share, a year earlier. Wall Street anticipated more robust EPS of $8.75. Revenue jumped 27.2% to $36 billion and international sales accounted for roughly 60% of that haul. Analysts had been projecting sales of $35.80 billion. Gross margins slipped to 40% from 40.3% the year before. “We’re very proud to end a fantastic fiscal year with record September quarter results,” CEO Tim Cook said in a statement. “We’re entering this holiday season with the best iPhone, iPad, Mac and iPod products ever, and we remain very confident in our new product pipeline.” Driven by the new iPhone 5, Apple sold 26.9 million iPhones last quarter, up 58% year-over-year and above the 25 million to 26 million analysts had been forecasting. Apple also said it is working to make more iPhones ahead of the holidays. On the other hand, Apple logged a 26% increase in iPad sales last quarter to 14 million, significantly missing forecasts. The tech company sold 4.9 million Macs, representing a 1% year-over-year bump. Sales of iPods continue to ebb, shrinking 19% from a year earlier to 5.3 million. Like many companies, Apple suffered from slowing sales around the world. The company said European sales gained 8% to $8.24 billion, while Asia Pacific revenue gained 15% to $7.89 billion. Yet revenue in Japan surged 113% to $2.01 billion and sales in the Americas climbed 43% to $12.81 billion. Looking ahead, Apple forecasted fiscal first-quarter revenue of about $52 billion and EPS of $11.75. By comparison, Wall Street was looking for far stronger sales of $55.02 billion and EPS of $15.43. U.S. stock futures retreated on the numbers and guidance from Apple, which carries a huge weighting in many indexes, especially the Nasdaq 100. In recent action the S&P 500 declined 0.67%, while the Nasdaq slumped 1.4%. Long known for blowing away its conservative forecasts, this marks Apple's third earnings miss over the past several quarters. More recently, Apple's shares have tumbled nearly $100, or about 13.5%, since cruising to all-time highs of $705.07 last month. The steep descent was largely triggered by the company saying it sold about 5 million iPhone 5 units in the opening weekend, well below analyst estimates. Earlier this week Apple unveiled a mini version of its iPad that will be priced at $329, higher than some had been anticipating and significantly higher than rival devices by Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN) and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG). Even before its earnings report Apple was in focus on Thursday as Bloomberg News reported the tech company accelerated efforts to launch an online music service as early as the first quarter, sending shares of Pandora Media (NYSE:P) plummeting to all-time lows.
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