Apple on Tuesday reported a rise in its quarterly profit to US$8.8 billion on hot iPad sales, but missed lofty Wall Street expectations partly because of iPhone lovers waiting for a rumored new model.
The profit in the fiscal quarter to last month was up 20.5 percent from a year earlier, but short of analyst forecasts. Revenues rose 22.5 percent to US$35 billion, also below expectations of more than US$37 billion.
In a conference call, Apple chief financial officer Peter Oppenheimer said that revenue in the quarter was hampered by weak sales in Europe, a strengthened US dollar and rumor of a new iPhone poised for release.
“Our weekly iPhone sales continue to be impacted by rumors and speculation about new products,” Oppenheimer said.
Apple factored a “product transition” in September into financial guidance for the current quarter, fueling wild talk of a next-generation iPhone on the horizon.
“We try very hard to keep our product roadmap secret and confidential,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said during the call.
“I’m not going to put any energy into stopping people from speculating,” he said. “I’m glad that people want the next thing; I’m super happy about it.”
With Apple’s rare miss of analyst forecasts, shares slid more than 5 percent in after-hours trade to US$567.80.
Apple said it was pleased with the results, including sales of 17 million iPads, a year-over-year rise of 84 percent.
Cook said that none of the iPad competitors fielded in the past year has gained “any level of traction at all.”
“I still think that most customers feel they are not looking for a tablet, they are looking for an iPad,” Cook said.
While iPad sales sizzled, the introduction of a model with a relatively low price tag of US$399 in the line trimmed how much profit Apple made.
Apple also did not release the new iPad in China until tomorrow, after resolving a trademark dispute there over ownership of the tablet’s name.
“We remain confident about our plans and very excited about our opportunities in China,” Cook said.
The company also sold 26 million iPhones in the quarter, up 28 percent, and 4 million Macs, a 2 percent unit increase despite overall computer industry sales inching down 1 percent in the quarter.
The earnings news comes with Apple battling in the courts over patents, mainly with South Korean archrival Samsung.
A trial is set to begin on Monday in a case in which Apple accused Samsung of infringing on copyrights by copying certain features of the iPad and iPhone in rival devices powered by Google-backed Android software.