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Apple reports flat first-quarter earnings; shares drop 5%

January 23, 2013|By Chris O'Brien and Andrea Chang
  • Apple earnings have been highly anticipated.
Apple earnings have been highly anticipated. (Kimihiro Hoshino / AFP/Getty…)

Apple Inc. reported flat fiscal first-quarter earnings, sending shares plummeting 5% in after-hours trading.

Apple said revenue increased 18% to $54.5 billion in the first quarter, which ended in December. Profit rose only slightly to $13.08 billion, or $13.81 a share, from $13.06 billion, or $13.87, a year earlier.

Apple had previously told Wall Street analysts that for its first quarter, investors should expect the company to report $52 billion in revenue and $11.75 a share in earnings. The consensus among Wall Street analysts was that Apple would report $54.7 billion in revenue and $13.41 a share in earnings.

LIVE UPDATES: Apple shares plunge as earnings disappoint

In addition, Apple said it sold a record 47.8 million iPhones in the last quarter, up from the 37 million iPhones it sold in the same quarter in 2011. The company sold 22.9 million iPads, also a record, up from 15.4 million.

Despite the record number of iPhones sold, some analysts were expecting more.

“Meeting expectations is not enough for Apple,” said Colin Gillis of BGC Financial. “People are looking on the north side somewhere of 50 million phones. So that’s a little bit of a disappointment…. International sales were a little weaker than people expected. So we’ll see how that shakes out.”

“Overall, compared to other companies, it’s impressive,” said Patrick Moorhead of Moor Insights & Strategy. “But for Apple’s standards, it’s not great, but really good.

“I do think this somewhat fuels the perception that Apple is slowing down a bit, in terms of being able to consistently set expectations. And it’s driven by the fact that some of its competitors are catching up, and in some markets have already caught up.”

Immediately after the numbers were released, Apple's stock fell 4.5% to $490.48 in after-hours trading. During regular trading, shares rose $9.24, or 1.8%, to $514.01.

At 2 p.m., the company began its earnings calls with analysts. The Cupertino, Calif., company could hint at its upcoming plans for cheaper iPhones, new iPads and possibly some long-awaited TV news, although it seems unlikely for the typically tight-lipped company. Still, expect analysts to try their best to finagle information from Chief Executive Tim Cook and other company executives during the question-and-answer portion of the call.

For the current quarter, Apple said it expected revenue of $41 billion to $43 billion, gross margin of 37.5% to 38.5% and operating expenses of $3.8 billion to $3.9 billion.

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