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Earnings Worries Take Bite out of Apple

Apple, Inc. is still doing well.  Really well, in fact.

Just not as well as expected.

Late last week, Apple (AAPL) released its much-anticipated quarterly earnings report for the conclusion of 2012.  Though the multinational corporation posted record revenues
and profits, investors were left unequivocally disappointed in the results.

For the three months that ended in December, Apple earned roughly $54.5 billion in revenue – up an astounding $18.5 billion from the corporation’s fiscal fourth quarter, which ended in September.  Its average weekly revenue increased by $900 million from the same quarter in 2011.

Apple sold 47.8 million iPhones and 22.9 million iPads during its most recent quarter, both records for the company’s two most popular products.  The sale of Macs and iPods were both significantly down from a year ago.

The company chose not to distinguish the sale statistics of its newly-unveiled iPad mini from that of the standard iPad, yet inventory backlogs seemed to suggest that the product was welcomed warmly by consumers with heavy demand.

So, why the frowns?

Apple’s profit level result was generally flat, despite the company selling 18 million more iPhones and iPads.  Apple spent big to ensure the timely release of both the iPhone 5 and iPad Mini late in 2012.  The flat earnings could mark the end of years of continuing growth that formed Apple into the most valuable U.S. corporation.

But the deceleration wasn’t without a disclaimer.  The company, headed by CEO Tim Cook, who officially took over for Steve Jobs in Aug. 2011, warned that the introduction of the two anticipated products would affect profits in a transitional manufacturing period.

“Meeting expectations is not enough for Apple,” Colin Gillis of BGC Financial told the L.A. Times.  “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.”

According to the Wall Street Journal, the iPhone grew along with the market rate for similar competing products.  Though the once-revolutionary smartphone made up for more than half of Apple’s total revenue last quarter, it seems that the corporation is losing its competitive advantage for the product.  Previous periods in which Apple released new versions of the iPhone saw it grab a larger percentage of the market share.

One product series that has given rise to competition is Samsung’s Galaxy smartphones and tablets.  The Galaxy is cheaper than the iPhone and has similar amenities, which could force Apple to make a response.

The disappointing earnings report catalyzed a 10 percent – nearly $47 billion – dip in share value last Wednesday, a day after Apple made its press release available.

Despite the negativity, Cook firmly believes that Apple will be able to revitalize growth once it can meet manufacturing needs.

“We’re thrilled with record revenue of over $54 billion and sales of over 75 million iOS devices in a single quarter,” Cook said in Apple’s official release.  “We’re very confident in our product pipeline as we continue to focus on innovation and making the best products in the world.”

Since the conception of the iPod in 2001, Apple has been making the best products in the world.  The iPhone and iPad ultimately put the corporation on the top of the technological world.

But can Apple maintain its power?  What not long ago seemed like an indestructible moving train,
gaining cargo by the day, could be losing steam.

“Apple is one of the most prolific periods of innovation in its history,” Cook mentioned.  “We continue to believe our fundamentals, our remarkable people, and our clear and focused strategy will serve us well in the coming months and years ahead.”

Apple’s CEO is confident in Apple’s future.  What’s in its kitchen, however, may not be as appealing as what their Cook tells us.

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