Apple’s Q4 Results Disappoint Despite Selling 33.8 Million iPhones

Apple Inc’s profit and margins are quite disappointing despite selling millions of iPhones in its September quarter.

Apple’s numbers in the fourth quater are surprisingly disappointing despite the company has sold 33.8 million iPhones in September, and greater China revenue climbed just 6 percent even though two highly expected next-generation smartphones hit stores a month ago. Photo: Prateek Rungta/Flickr

The unremarkable quarterly results made investors concern whether they should cash in recent gains in the stock, which slid 5 percent at one stage after-hours on Monday.

“Wall Street had hoped for a stronger beat on quarterly sales after the company predicted in September that its revenue and margins would come in at the high end of its own forecasts,” Reuters reports.

Actually, some investors are seriously worried whether the Cupertino based tech company may have missed a chance to jumpstart sales and fend off the Korean giant Samsung in China with an even more affordable phone.

The company has ceded ground steadily to Samsung and homegrown competition like Huawei and Lenovo, but needs to stake out a bigger spot in the world’s top cellular market to rekindle growth.

Revenue from Asia increased only on 6 percent to $5.7 billion in the fourth quarter, despite the 5C and 5S going on sale last month.

The extra popular smartphone, iPhone 5, hit stores only in December, which made analysts compare and estimated that the company should benefited from a more typical year-ago quarter.

However, the iPhone maker reports that its sales grew by about 24 percent from the previous quarter, or by about $1.1 billion. But that lagged the roughly $1.4 billion that Apple managed to tack on in the December quarter of 2012.

“It does raise the question, how well is Apple doing really, in China?” said JMP Securities analyst Alex Gauna.

“Apple is a very healthy company,” he added. But “if you look at the last few quarters, and even with the guide, it’s not much of a growth company.”

Apple Chief Executive, Tim Cook, told analysts during a conference call that results from China were “pretty good” but acknowledged room for improvement. “We obviously want to do better,” he said.

“We would have expected higher gross margins,” said Morningstar analyst Brian Colello. “With the higher price phones and clear preference toward the 5S, we were all expecting more of a gross margin boost for the December quarter.”

Shares in the Californian tech giant, which have gained 17 percent since last month, slid as much as 5 percent on Monday before recovering.

Tim Cook has previously promised that the company will continue studying its capital-return program and will try to correspond to recent demands by investors to share more of its cash hoard.

Apple reports that it’s sold 33.8 million iPhones last quarter, exceeding analysts’ expectations for 33 million to 36 million.

The company sold 14.1 million iPads during the last quarter, “up very slightly from 14 million in the year-ago quarter, and moved 4.6 million of its Mac computers, down from 4.9 million a year ago,” Reuters writes.

“Revenue was $37.5 billion, ahead of Wall Street’s average forecast of $36.8 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. Earnings per share slid for the third straight quarter to $8.26, but ahead of analysts’ average estimate of $7.94.”

“They had already preannounced and people got euphoric in recent weeks. It wasn’t a massive blowout,” said Shannon Cross of Cross Research.

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