Apple sets iPhone, iPad records, but misses analyst targets

Apple’s stock price fell more than 6 per cent in after-hours trading Tuesday, after the company revealed fourth quarter results that didn’t quite meet Wall Street’s expectations despite setting Apple records.

Revenue and profit numbers were dragged down in the last half of the quarter, as rumours of a new iPhone reached fever pitch, and consumers held off on buying the current models. But Apple executives say the fall-off was much less than they expected.

Analysts had projected iPhone sales of about 22 million for the quarter. But citing the mounting impact of rumors and anticipation of new iPhone model in September, Apple executives said they sold 17 million.

The new iPhone 4S went on sale last week, l after the first quarter began, and sold 4 million units in three days. 

For the quarter ending in September, Apple’s revenues were $28.3 billion, slightly below the $28.6 billion in Q3 revenues, and about $1 billion less than the average expected by analysts. Profits for Q4 were $6.62 billion, also down slightly from Q3. But revenues and profits were dramatically higher than in Q4 last year, when Apple reported $20.3 billion in revenues and $4.31 billion in profit.

For its 2011 fiscal year, Apple said its revenues were $108 billion, an increase of 66 per cent over 2010 results. Earnings for the year were $26 billion, up 85per cent over the 2010 number. Apple sold 72 million iPhones and 32 million iPads in 12 months.

In the year’s last quarter, Apple sold 17 million iPhones. In Q4, Apple sold 4.98 million Macs, a new record, and a 21per cent increase compared to the year-ago quarter. MacBook Air growth was very strong, and desktops grew also thanks to iMac demand. And that was despite some admitted “cannibalization” of Mac sales. “Some people are choosing to buy an iPad instead of a Mac,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook. “But a higher percentage are choosing to buy an iPad instead of a Windows PC….So I hope that kind of cannibalization continues.”

Sales of iPads set a new record for the quarter: 11.1 million compared to just over 4 million in the year-ago quarter.

Cook declined specific comments on the company’s patent litigation efforts. “As you know, we spend a lot of time and money and resources in coming up with incredible innovation, and we don’t like it when someone else takes those,” he said. “Unfortunately, we’ve been pushed into the court system as a remedy.”

Executives said they expect Q1 revenues through December, with 14 weeks instead of 13 this year, of about $37 billion, and diluted earnings per share of about $9.30. Executives expect record iPhone, iPad and Mac sales yet again. One area to bear watching will be consumer uptake of the new, lowered prices for iPhone 4 ($99) and the free iPhone 3GS, both with two-year service contracts.

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