Apple's dominance slipping?
San Francisco, January 24, 2013
Apple missed Wall Street's revenue forecast for the third straight quarter after iPhone sales came in below expectations, fanning fears that its dominance of consumer electronics is slipping.
Shares of the world's largest tech company fell 10 percent to $463 in after-hours trade, wiping out some $50 billion of its market value - nearly equivalent to that of Hewlett-Packard and Dell combined.
On Wednesday, Apple said it shipped a record 47.8 million iPhones in the December quarter, up 29 percent from a year earlier. But that lagged the 50 million that analysts on average had projected.
Expectations heading into the results had been subdued by news of possible production cutbacks by some component suppliers in Asia, triggering fears that demand for the iPhone, which accounts for half of Apple's revenue, and the iPad could be slowing.
But some investors clung to hopes for a repeat of years of historical outperformance, analysts said.
"It's going to call into question Apple's dominance in the space. It's still one of the strong players, the others being Samsung and Google. It's still a two-horse race, but Android continues to grow rapidly," said Sterne Agee
analyst Shaw Wu.
"If you step back a bit, it's clear they shipped a lot of phones. But the problem is the high expectations that investors have. Apple's conservative guidance highlights the concerns over production cuts coming out of Asia recently."
Apple is forecasting revenue of $41 billion to $43 billion in the current, second fiscal quarter, lagging the average Wall Street forecast of more than $45 billion.
Fiscal first-quarter revenue rose 18 percent to $54.5 billion, below the average analyst estimate of $54.73 billion, though earnings per share of $13.81 beat the Street forecast of $13.47, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Apple also undershot revenue targets in the previous two quarters, and these results will prompt more questions on what Apple has in its product pipeline, and what it can do to attract new sales and maintain its growth trajectory, analysts said.
Net income of $13.07 billion was virtually flat with $13.06 billion a year earlier on higher manufacturing costs. The year-ago quarter also had an extra week compared to this year.
Gross margins consequently slid to 38.6 percent, from 44.7 percent previously.
"You can't just keep rolling out iPhones and iPads and think that everybody needs a new one," said Jeffrey Gundlach, who runs DoubleLine Capital LP, the $53 billion bond firm. "The mini?
What is that all about? It is a slightly smaller iPad - so what? So that is our new definition of innovation?"
"There are plenty of competitors like Samsung and other legitimate competitors like them," added Gundlach, one of the highest-profile Apple bears. He maintains a $425 price target.
Taking into account the drop in shares in Wednesday's after-hours trading, Apple's stock is now down 34 percent from its September record high and the company has lost about $227 billion in market value.
CHINA IS NEXT BIG GROWTH DRIVER
Intense competition from Samsung's cheaper phones - powered by Google's Android software - and signs that the
premium smartphone market may be close to saturation in developed markets have also caused a lot of investor anxiety.
Meanwhile, sales of the iPad came in at 22.9 million in the fiscal first quarter, roughly in line with forecasts.
On the brighter side, Chief Financial Officer Peter Oppenheimer told Reuters that iPhone sales more than doubled in greater China - a region that Apple chief executive Tim Cook has vowed to focus on as its next big growth driver.
The company will begin detailing results from that country going forward. Revenue from the region totaled $7.3 billion, up 60 percent from the year-ago December quarter.
"These results were OK, but they definitely raised a few questions," said Shannon Cross, analyst with Cross Research. "Gross margin trajectory looks fine so that's a positive and cash continues to grow. But I think investors are going to want to know what Apple plans to do with growing cash balance."
"And other questions are going to be around innovation and where the next products are coming from and what does Tim Cook see in the next 12 to 18 months." - Reuters
More INTERNATIONAL NEWS Stories
- Confusion as search for lost jet spreads
- Military denies lost plane's flight to Malacca
- Investors monitoring Pimco after internal strife
- N Korea tanker ‘leaves Libya rebel port carrying oil’
- Malaysia plane incident not terror related: Interpol
- Crimea closes air space to commercial flights
- Missing Malaysian plane last seen At Malacca Strait
- Stolen passport holder on missing plane is Iranian
- China deploys 10 satellites to search for Malaysia jet
- Libya says halts tanker outside port; rebels deny it
- Libya orders military force to 'liberate' ports
- Big bananas: Chiquita, Fyffes merge
- Radar sweeps, dozens of aircraft, but no sign of plane
- N Korea tanker loads oil at Libya rebel port
- Gold drops as US growth optimism weighs
- Merkel raps Putin; Russia tightens grip on Crimea
- World 'at sea' over missing Malaysian jetliner
- Passports requiring probe were on Malaysia flight
- 40 killed in Yemen as Houthi fighters near capital
- Vietnam finds object in sea; search on
- $5bn poll spend to boost India economy
- Libya authorises use of force against Korean tanker
- Ukraine PM says he will go to US to discuss crisis
- Syrian journalist killed covering fighting
- Malaysian jet may have turned back before vanishing
- No sign of missing plane; Malaysia probes false passports
- Two Europeans not on board 'missing' Malaysian jet
- China draws red line on North Korea
- Saudi sentences three to death for 2003 bombing
- First bitcoin machine opens in UK