Apple Q3: iPhone gravy train derails in expectations miss

Summary:What were you expecting, a blowout quarter? Apple's fiscal third quarter was about as dry as the Utah desert, as Wall Street gears up for an expected revolutionary second-half.

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Image: CNET/CBS Interactive

Things have been a little quiet around Cupertino as of late. Except for a glimmer at the city's largest technology giant's latest desktop and mobile software, no new products have been pushed out the door.

And so it's likely no surprise that, during its quietest quarter with nothing on offer to kick its main cash cow — the iPhone — back into gear, things weren't going to land so well.

Apple reported on Tuesday fiscal third-quarter ending mid-June income of $7.7 billion on earnings of $1.28 per share (statement). Revenue for the quarter was $37.4 billion.

Wall Street was expecting Apple to report earnings of $1.23 per share on revenue of exactly $38 billion.

So it was a hit on earnings per share, but a miss on revenue.

What happened? Apple didn't sell as many iPhones or iPads as analysts were expecting. The company missed by about 600,000 iPhones, and down 1.16 million iPads. Its software and services unit, which includes iTunes and in-app purchases, also took a hit on expectations, but surpassed year-over-year goals.

But at least on the bright side, things are looking up on the Mac front, which beat Wall Street estimates and grew year-over-year.

By the numbers:

  • iPhones: 35.2 million sold, up from 31.2 million from the same period a year ago, but down on average analyst expectations, which were expecting 35.78 million units.
     
  • iPads: 13.3 million sold, down from 14.6 million from the same period a year ago. Analysts were expecting 14.43 million, based to average estimates. 

  • Macs: 4.4 million sold, up from 3.8 million from the same period a year ago. Analysts were expecting 3.93 million, based to average estimates. 

  • iTunes, Software & Services: $4.48 billion in revenue, up from $4.1 billion from the same period a year ago. Analysts were expecting $4.53 billion, based to average estimates. 

In prepared remarks, Apple's chief executive Tim Cook said its third-quarter revenue was fueled by "strong iPhone and Mac sales, but did not mention analyst expectations. He added:

"Our record June quarter revenue was fueled by strong sales of iPhone and Mac and the continued growth of revenue from the Apple ecosystem, driving our highest EPS growth rate in seven quarters. We are incredibly excited about the upcoming releases of iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite, as well as other new products and services that we can’t wait to introduce."

Apple declared a cash dividend of $0.47 per share of common stock, payable mid-August. 

The company also generated $10.3 billion in cash flow during the quarter, and served up more than $8 billion in cash to investors, it said.

Also, sales outside the U.S. accounted for almost 60 percent of sales during the quarter.

In all, the numbers weren't bad, but consumers are hungry for what's next. And patience is wearing thin. For Apple to keep its own promise that it would dish out new products lines and services, it has to hit something in the coming five months.

The company said for its fiscal fourth quarter outlook, it's expecting to bring in between $37 billion and $40 billion in revenue, which fall slightly short of Wall Street estimates of $40.44 billion.

Shares in Apple ($AAPL) closed up shy of 1 percent on the Nasdaq in New York at market close on Wednesday. In after-hours trading, shares were at the time of writing down by more than 1 percent.

Topics: Apple, iOS, iPad, iPhone

About

Zack Whittaker writes for ZDNet, CNET, and CBS News. He is based in New York City.

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