Apple's monster Q1 earnings still fall short on Wall Street

As expected, Apple's holiday quarter comes up big in iPhone sales. But the company missed Wall Street's expectations on revenue.

Apple just reported its first quarter earnings, and they were huge, though they missed Wall Street's expectations.

The iPhone and iPad maker posted revenue of $54.5 billion and earnings of $13.1 billion, or $13.81 per share. That was just below the $54.7 billion and slightly above the earnings per share of $13.44 Wall Street was expecting, but above the $52 billion and $11.75 per share Apple forecast for itself back in October.

Apple sold 47.8 million iPhones during the quarter, which ended in December. Sales of the iPad came in at 22.9 million, and 4.1 million units for the Mac. Customers bought 12.7 million iPods.

"We're thrilled with record revenue of over $54 billion and sales of over 75 million iOS devices in a single quarter," Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a statement about the results. "We're very confident in our product pipeline as we continue to focus on innovation and making the best products in the world."

For its next quarter, which ends in March, Apple said it expects to bring in between $41 billion and $43 billion in revenue. That's well below Wall Street's forecasted revenue of $45.6 billion.

The news sent Apple's stock down $52.54 to $461.47 or 10.22 percent in after-hours trading. In the run-up to earnings, shares of Apple dropped nearly $200 or about 28.79 percent since reaching an all-time intraday high of $702.10 in September.

Apple came right on target with sales of its iPhones. Wall Street was expecting Apple to announce iPhone sales somewhere between 43 million and 53 million. This was the first full quarter of iPhone 5 sales, a product that went on sale last September. Apple's previous quarter included a little more than a week of sales of the device, which was tough to get online or in stores until the tail end of November . Some viewed that as a sign demand was slipping, a fear that was compounded with a pair of reports earlier this month claiming Apple had pulled back its orders on components for future models.

"While iPhone numbers were mildly disappointing, our initial look at Apple's December quarter results does not sway our long-term confidence in the iOS ecosystem," Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster said in a note following the results. "Net-net, while we believe the iPhone number may appear disappointing, the slightly better guide implies that investors may not need to continue to worry about noise regarding continued iPhone build decreases for March."

Even with iPhones as the bright spot, the company missed on sales of its iPad tablet and Mac computers. Apple was expected to have sold between 23 million and 25 million units, and came up just shy at 22.9 million. That's well over the 15.4 million from the same quarter a year ago, but less than analysts were expecting given the expansion of the iPad line with the cheaper iPad Mini. On the Mac front, analyst estimates were mostly in the 5 million range, a number Apple shorted at 4.1 million units.

Apple said 6.8 billion of its revenue came from Greater China during the quarter, an area of increasing interest for the company as it tries to grow its overall sales. China accounted for 15 percent of the company's revenue last quarter, and has been its fastest growing region.

In an interview with the Xinhua News Agency earlier this month, Apple's Cook said he believes the country will eventually become its largest market, overtaking the U.S., which accounted for nearly $14 billion of the company's $36 billion in revenue in the previous quarter.

Stay tuned for more details. The company is holding its conference call at 2 p.m. Pacific, when it's expected to discuss the results and field questions from Wall Street analysts.

 

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