Apple tumbles after posting slowest sales growth since 2009

Largest Investors

Apple’s ten largest investors hold a combined 272.7 million shares, about 29 percent of the total, and include BlackRock Inc., T. Rowe Price Group Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co., according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That number of shares was worth $140.2 billion based on yesterday’s closing price, down from $191.4 billion when Apple closed at a record high in September.

For the fiscal second quarter, now under way, Apple forecast sales of $41 billion to $43 billion. That compares with predictions by analysts for revenue of $45.5 billion. Gross margin will be 37.5 percent to 38.5 percent, Apple said yesterday in a statement. Operating costs for equipment, retail stores and data centers will be $3.8 billion to $3.9 billion.

Apple changed the way it provides financial outlooks to investors, after years of exceeding quarterly profit estimates by an average of 26 percent. Rather than providing “conservative” forecasts, Apple expects to report results within its predicted range, Chief Financial Officer Peter Oppenheimer said on a conference call.

Smartphone Competitors

Competition from smartphone vendors using Google Inc.’s Android software, as well as the lack of a new breakthrough product since the iPad’s 2010 debut, has led Daniel Morris, chief investment officer of Morris Capital Advisors LLC, to reduce his holdings.

“It does raise some red flags,” said Morris, who first bought Apple before the iPhone was introduced.

Cook and Oppenheimer defended the company’s performance, saying iPhone, iPad mini and iMac sales were held back because the company couldn’t manufacture enough keep up with demand.

“There are a few factors that are impacting the year-over- year results, making the strong performance of the business a little harder to see,” Oppenheimer said.

Cook also addressed reports suggesting iPhone demand is waning because the company cut orders for some components.

“It would be impossible to interpret what it would mean for our entire business,” Cook said.

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