Apple earnings preview: Analysts say they expect lower revenue, sales


An Apple Inc. logo hangs above the entrance at the Fifth Avenue store in New York, U.S., on Friday, March 11, 2011. (Jin LKee/BLOOMBERG)
April 23, 2013

Apple’s earnings report Tuesday comes amid a major fall that’s seen the company’s stock lose nearly 25 percent of its share price since the beginning of the year.

Apple shares were up slightly in Tuesday morning trading, jumping back above the $400-mark after closing in the high 300s for the past few days, but dropping 44 percent since prices topped $700 per share in September.

Shares are, however, trading higher than they were when Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook took over from Apple’s late co-founder Steve Jobs in August 2011.

Ahead of the company’s report Tuesday, analysts polled by Thomson First Call put consensus estimates for the company’s revenue at around $42.5 billion.

In a note to investors ahead of the earnings report, Sterne Agee analyst Shaw Wu said that he expects Apple may miss even these lowered estimates, and reiterated his prediction that the company will have $41.3 billion in revenue. He also predicted slightly lower sales than the consensus forecasts: He believes Apple will have sold 32.5 million iPhones compared to estimates of around 34 million iPhones and 18.5 million iPads rather than 18 million-19 million iPads.

Apple, which has been offering more realistic guidance of late after years of low-balling its own estimates, said in its last earnings report that it expects to post between $41 billion and $43 billion in revenue.

Apple’s second quarter is traditionally a weak one as the company comes off its holiday sales. But the lowered expectations here go beyond normal seasonal changes. Cook has been facing pressure and comparisons to Jobs since he took the position, but criticism has intensified as the company’s shares have continued to fall.

It doesn’t help that Apple has been fairly quiet recently. Its last major product launch, for the iPad mini, was in October. And there has been no sign of new products — though rumors have created plenty of buzz and speculation over an Apple-branded television, smartwatch or streaming music service — to tamp down fears that company is losing its ability to innovate in the post-Jobs era.

This has fed pervasive worries that Apple’s flagship gadgets such as the iPhone will not be able to keep up its consumer appeal. Apple is still the leading smartphone maker in the United States with 38.9 percent of the market, compared to Samsung’s 21.3 percent, but trails in worldwide sales. The company has also seen its share in the tablet market slip in the face of cheaper options from competitors such as Google and Amazon. While Apple still held 43.6 percent of the market at the end of 2012, that’s down from 51.7 percent at the end of 2011.

Any sign that Apple’s cachet is weakening will be particularly notable as its main smartphone competitor Samsung introduces its the Galaxy S 4 this week— a model aimed squarely at the high end of the smartphone market and core iPhone users.

Related stories:

Apple slowdown threatens $30 billion global supplier network

Twitter debuts mobile music application for Apple’s iTunes

Apple shares briefly dip below $400

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Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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