Apple tumbles after posting slowest sales growth since 2009

Era Ends

Even so, the results indicate that the period of rapid growth that Apple experienced in the six years after Jobs introduced the iPhone may be coming to an end. Samsung and others have followed Apple’s lead in to the era of mobile touch- screen devices and are grabbing market share by introducing smartphones in various designs and prices. Earlier this month, Samsung reported profit rose 89 percent to 8.8 trillion won ($8.3 billion).

“This confirms some of the worries that some of the investors had,” said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at BMO Private Bank. “It’s a gigantic company, so incremental growth is just that much more difficult.”

To grab a larger portion of the global smartphone market, some Apple investors argue the company needs to introduce a lower-priced iPhone that can appeal to customers in developing countries where carriers don’t subsidize handset purchases.

IPhone Options

Cook said Apple still offers consumers that option by continuing to sell older models at reduced prices. The iPhone 4 was selling out throughout the quarter, Cook said. In China, the world’s largest phone market, sales grew 67 percent to $6.8 billion. IPhone sales more than doubled in China, where Apple opened 4 stores during the quarter.

Sales of the iPhone, Apple’s biggest source of revenue and profit, reached 47.8 million units, matching the prediction by analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. The company also sold 22.9 million iPads, above the projected 22.4 million units.

While Apple revamped its Mac personal-computer lineup during the quarter, selling 4.1 million Macs, that wasn’t enough to beat analysts’ estimates for 5.1 million units. Apple sold 12.7 million iPods, more than the projection for 11.4 million units. Cook said Apple couldn’t manufacture enough Macs to keep up with demand, holding back sales.

Some investors are looking at the drop-off in Apple’s stock since a September high as a buying opportunity.

“This is not by any stretch of the imagination a broken company,” said David Rolfe, chief investment officer at Wedgewood Partners.

Cook displayed similar confidence when asked about future products.

“We’re working on some incredible stuff,” he said. “We feel great about what we’ve got in store.”

Bloomberg News

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