Apple Earnings Miss Expectations, iPad Sales Disappoint

Apple’s fourth quarter earnings were a little lower than what Wall Street predicted. But with $36 billion in revenue and a new product lineup, the company is still minting money.

10.25.12 10:35 PM ET

Apple reported its fourth quarter earnings today and managed to make more than $8.2 billion in profits and $36 billion in sales look disappointing. According to Reuters, analysts expected the company would report earnings of $8.75 per share. Instead they came in at $8.67.

By pretty much any measure, however, Apple posted an impressive quarter. It paid out a quarterly dividend of $2.50 per share. Sales rose more than 27 percent from the third quarter of 2011.  

All product lines saw growth—except, of course, the iPod, which has been rendered obsolete by Apple’s innovations. In the quarter, Apple sold 14 million iPads, a 26 percent jump from the third quarter of last year, and 26.9 million iPhones, which is up a massive 58 percent from the year before. By design, iPods stagnated, with 5.3 million in sales, a 19 percent decline. Even Apple wasn’t immune to the growing global distaste for PCs. The company moved 4.9 million Macs, only 1 percent more than this quarter last year.

While the iPod is falling off due to the proliferation of music-playing phones, most obviously the iPhone, it was still, according to Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer, “the top-selling MP3 [player] in most countries we track.” Over half of them were iPod touches, which are basically iPhones minus the phone.

Apple is continuing to evolve from a U.S.-based hardware manufacturer to a global consumer giant. Sixty percent of all revenues came from outside the U.S. And the average Apple store brought in a whopping $11.2 million in revenue. The iTunes store generated $2.1 billion. For the recently completed fiscal year, Oppenheimer said during Apple’s call with analysts, the company sold 58 million iPads, 18 million Macs, and 35 million iPods.

While it may be easy to pooh-pooh some of Apple’s more recent “innovations”—let’s make the phone a bit thinner and wider and screw up the map app! Let’s make an iPad you can hold with one hand!—there’s no denying the results.

Apple, of course, isn’t sitting on its success. As Oppenheimer put it, “We’ve never before introduced so many new form factors at once.” (Translation: the company made the iPhone bigger and a smaller, thinner.) Of course, Apple’s earnings weren’t the only big Apple news this week. This week it introduced the iPad Mini, which is designed to compete with the smaller (and cheaper) Amazon Kindle Fire HD and Google’s Nexus. Add this to the new iPhone, the fourth generation of the iPad, and the new “retina” MacBook—and the company basically has a totally refreshed product line going into the holidays.

The iPad Mini’s starting price of $329 is about 65 percent more than the base price of its direct competitors. That shows the confidence Apple has in its ability to get customers to pay for products that are significantly more expensive—and profitable—than the competition’s. For Apple, a more than 60 percent premium on the competition means you’re pricing it “aggressively,” in the words of Oppenheimer. Apple CEO Tim Cook described the near-addiction so many of us have for his company’s gadgets as the result of a “relentless commitment to innovation.”

With these new products, and a legion of Apple fanboys and girls desperate to snatch them up as soon as they can get their hands on them, Apple announced expected revenue of $52 billion and earnings per share of $11.75 in the next quarter (analysts expected guidance for $55 billion in revenues). In the same quarter last year, Apple had $46.33 billion in revenue and a profit of $13.06 billion, or $13.87 per share. Merry iChristmas!