Apple Inc. forecast profit and revenue that fell short of analysts’ predictions for the crucial holiday quarter as costs rose and customers held off on iPad purchases before the release of a new model.
Profit in the current period will be about $11.75 a share on sales of about $52 billion, Cupertino, California-based Apple said today in a statement. That compares with $15.49 a share on sales of $55.1 billion, the average of analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Last quarter’s profit rose to $8.67 a share, shy of the $8.75 a share projected by analysts.
Apple sold 14 million iPads, fewer than the 15.3 million predicted by analysts in a Bloomberg survey, as customers delayed buying old versions of the tablet before the company released the iPad mini in the current quarter. While iPhone sales surpassed analysts’ predictions, sales of the device could be hampered should supply constraints persist. Costs also increased as the company rushed to get new products on store shelves ahead of the holidays.
“A lot of the products are new and when products get freshly introduced production costs are higher,” said Giri Cherukuri, portfolio manager at Oakbrook Investments LLC, which holds Apple shares.
Apple’s stock slipped 1.4 percent in late trading after the results were released. It had fallen 1.2 percent to $609.54 at the close in New York, and has slumped 13 percent since reaching a record the week iPhone 5 went on sale, related partly to the company’s struggle to keep up with demand.
While revenue rose 27 percent to $36 billion, operating expenses rose 29 percent to $3.46 billion, suggesting that Apple spent more to refresh its entire product line ahead of the holiday sales season. Research and development costs rose 40 percent.
Besides contending with iPhone part shortages, Apple is also grappling with increased competition in mobile-device markets it pioneered. It’s vying with Samsung Electronics Co. for leadership in global smartphones, and is squaring off with Amazon.com Inc., Google Inc. and Microsoft Corp., which have introduced iPad alternatives.
Besides a new iPad, the company in recent weeks introduced a new iteration of its iPhone, upgrades to the existing iPad and new versions of is iPod and Mac computer line.
Apple sold 26.9 million iPhones during the period, more than the 26.3 million predicted by analysts in a Bloomberg survey. Analysts had lowered iPad predictions earlier this week after Cook, during the unveiling of the new iPad, said the company had sold 100 million iPads to date -- an indication that some quarterly projections were too high.
Apple has said the new iPhone, which went on sale last month and sports a bigger screen and works with speedier wireless networks, will be available in about 100 countries by the end of the year. The smaller iPad goes on sale Nov. 2.
In the fourth quarter, back-to-school shopping helped push Mac sales to 4.9 million, matching the 4.9 million predicted by analysts. The lineup of desktops and laptops has been gaining share as demand wanes for competing personal computers, according to research firm Gartner Inc. Microsoft this week releases its own tablet, the Surface.
Apple sold 5.3 million iPods, compared with the 5.8 million predicted by analysts.
Gross profit margin, the proportion of sales left after deducting production costs, was 40 percent last quarter, compared with 40.3 percent a year earlier.