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Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

October 18, 2011 at 1:50 PM

Apple stock drops under $400 as sales, iPhone miss forecast

Apple failed to meet Wall Street expectations for the first time in years, with sales and iPhone growth missing forecasts.

The gilded stock fell below $400 in after-hours trading. At last check it was down 6 percent to $395.

Quarterly sales were $28.3 billion, while profit reached $6.6 billion. Analysts had been expecting sales of $29.5 billion, according to Thomson surveys. Diluted earnings per share were $7.05, compared to the $7.39 analysts were expecting.

For fiscal 2011, Apple posted a profit was $26 billion on sales of $108 billion.

“We are thrilled with the very strong finish of an outstanding fiscal 2011 … ,” Chief Executive Tim Cook said in a release. “Customer response to iPhone 4S has been fantastic, we have strong momentum going into the holiday season, and we remain really enthusiastic about our product pipeline.”

Sales of the iPhone grew 21 percent year-over-year, but declined 18 percent (by revenue) from the previous quarter, ahead of the iPhone 4S launch. The 17.1 million units sold missed analyst expectations of 19 million to 20 million units, Barron’s noted.

The launch effect is one factor, but the numbers also reflect Google’s Android overtaking the iPhone last summer to become the leading smartphone platform.

Sales of the iPad grew 166 percent over the previous year and 14 percent over the previous quarter, by revenue.

Sales of desktop Macs were flat — growing 1 percent, by revenue — but laptop sales grew 44 percent by revenue, compared with the same period last year.

We’ll see how long it takes for the stock to recover. I wonder if Apple was distracted during the quarter by the failing health of Steve Jobs, or perhaps it’s just the reality of the economic situation puncturing investors’ enthusiasm.

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