Sluggish sales of iPhones during Apple’s fourth quarter contributed to revenue that was up more than 39% year-over-year at $28.27 billion but missed analysts’ estimates. Earnings per share were $7.05, less than the street’s $7.39 target — the first time the company has missed EPS estimates, or any estimates, for that matter, in seemingly forever (OK, since 2004). Wall Street was stunned. Apple reported after the bell this afternoon, and the stock was down as much as 7% after hours before rebounding slightly. (At least one analyst predicted such a drop.) Shares of Apple had risen to a new high, $422, on Friday.
Sales of iPods, iPads and computers came in mostly as predicted, leading some to believe that the lower-than-expected iPhone number — 17.07 million units — was because consumers (and maybe even Apple) held back on buying iPhone 4s in favor of waiting for the new iPhone 5 or even 4S, which new CEO Tim Cook introduced in his first public appearance the day before the death of company co-founder Steve Jobs. That should be considered a possibility, especially considering that Apple offered better-than-expected guidance for the first quarter.