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No Home Run for Apple

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Apple (AAPL - Free Report) was able to beat earnings estimates in its fiscal first quarter following two consecutive misses, but everything else about the company’s performance was lackluster at best. The revenue result fell short of expectations as iPhone sales were soft.

As a result, shares of AAPL were down more than 6% in the after hours.

The report was certainly not a disaster for this influential tech company, but it wasn’t the turnaround that people were hoping for. Strong reports from IBM and Google yesterday had the market preparing for another good performance from the biggest bellwether in the industry. Now, we’re left to wonder what kind of an impact this will have on earnings season, which has been moving along at a decent, though not spectacular, pace thus far.

Apple reported fiscal first quarter earnings per share of $13.81, which was nearly 3% better than the Zacks Consensus Estimate at $13.44. It was flat from last year’s $13.87, but improved upon negative surprises of 2.03% in last year’s fiscal fourth quarter and nearly 10% in the fiscal third quarter.

The problem was on the top line. Revenue of $54.5 billion was a record and more than 17% better on a year-over-year basis. However, it missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate at $54.8 billion. It was a very slight miss, but a miss nonetheless for a company that once left such expectations in the dust.

The biggest disappointment though was the all-important iPhones. It shipped 47.8 million of them in the quarter, which was less than expected. Sales of the iPad were in line with expectations. Apple may still be the biggest growth story over the long term, but it is obviously facing more, and better, competition than ever before.

Quite frankly, Apple probably needed a better quarter than this to get back on track. Shares of the company are down approximately 30% from its peak, and reached a nearly 52-week low last week. Furthermore, it is a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). The past 60 days have seen 18 of 39 earnings estimates for this fiscal year move lower, while only 2 were revised higher.

We’ll have a lot more of this company’s report and its impact on the market coming up….

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