Apple earnings: misses estimates, slashes guidance

Apple has released its fourth quarter results for the fiscal year 2012, missing some estimates and lowering guidance for Q1. Here's a look at the numbers.

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Apple today announced earnings for the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2012, posting earnings per share of $8.67 on revenue of $35.97 billion. That just misses estimates for EPS but beats them for sales. Overall it's a minor miss for the quarter, but the company is generally on track.

More worrisome: the company dropped its guidance below analysts' expectations for the first quarter of fiscal year 2013 considerably, from diluted earnings per share of $15.49 on revenue of $55 billion to just $11.75 on revenue of $52 billion. That's a disappointing surprise, particularly since most investors consider Apple to habitually low-ball its quarterly estimates.

Shares of Apple were down two percent in after-hours trading, trading below $600 for the first time since late July.

Wall Street analysts had expected $8.81 earnings per share on $35.8 billion in revenue in Q4. But it's the company's stormy outlook for 2013 that has them concerned.

First, the quarterly vitals:

  • Revenue: $36.0 billion, up considerably from $28.3 billion the same quarter a year ago.
  • Net profit: $8.2 billion ($8.67 per diluted share), up considerably from the $6.6 billion ($7.05 per diluted share) the same quarter a year ago.
  • Gross margin: 40.0 percent, slightly lower than 40.3 percent the same quarter a year ago.
  • International sales accounted for 60 percent of the quarter's revenue.
  • Apple's board declared a cash dividend of $2.65 per share of common stock, payable Nov. 15.

Key product performance this quarter:

  • iPhones: 26.9 million, up 58 percent from the same period a year ago.
  • iPads: 14.0 million iPads, up 26 percent from the same period a year ago.
  • Macs: 4.9 million Macs, up 1 percent from the same period a year ago.
  • iPods: 5.3 million, up 19 percent from the same period a year ago.

Analysts had expected sales of 25.3 million iPhones, 15 million iPads, 5 million Macs and 5.5 million iPods.

Regional performance this quarter:

  • Americas: Revenue up 8 percent quarter over quarter; up 43 percent from a year ago.
  • Europe: Revenue down 3 percent QoQ; up 8 percent YoY.
  • Japan: Revenue up 18 percent QoQ; up 113 percent YoY.
  • Asia Pacific: Revenue down 4 percent QoQ; up 15 percent YoY.
  • Retail: Revenue up 4 percent QoQ; up 18 percent YoY.

Vitals for fiscal year 2012:

  • Net income: $41 billion
  • Operating cash flow: $50 billion

Expectations heading into the announcement were slightly hazy after chief executive Tim Cook announced this week that Apple had sold its 100 millionth iPad -- a milestone that hid a slower pace of sales than analysts expected. 

This week, Apple also unveiled the new iPad mini as well as a refresh on the full-size iPad, 13-inch MacBook Pro and iMac.

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My colleague Zack Whittaker will be covering the corresponding earnings call shortly; check Between the Lines in a few minutes for his coverage on what Apple's executives said about the quarter.