Apple predicts strong sales in crucial Christmas quarter
APPLE'S sales forecast for the crucial Christmas quarter topped analysts' projections, as the world's most-valuable company also predicted lighter-than-estimated gross margins.
Revenue in the current period will be $55bn (€44bn) to $58bn and gross margins will be 36.5pc to 37.5pc Apple said. That was marginally ahead of market forecasts.
Profit for the just-ended quarter fell 8.6pc to $7.51bn, or $8.26 a share.
Chief executive Tim Cook is rolling out new iPhones and iPads for the end-of-year shopping season, which is Apple's most important quarter.
The company, which is grappling with lower-priced products from Samsung and other rivals, is under pressure to reignite growth and maintain its margins with a new blockbuster product.
"The key question is if holiday sales are going to take Apple to another record-breaking quarter," said Laurence Balter, an analyst at Oracle Investment Research, whose clients are Apple shareholders.
Apple fell as much as 5.1pc in extended trading after the results were released.
Apple said sales for its fiscal fourth quarter ending in September rose 4.2pc to $37.5bn. IPhone sales, including about a week of the new 5s and 5c models hitting store shelves, were 33.8 million – more than the 32.8 million predicted by analysts on average in a Bloomberg survey. The company also sold 14.1 million iPads – fewer than expected.
"We're excited to go into the holidays," Mr Cook said in the statement. He indicated earlier this year that new products will be forthcoming in 2014.
Apple has been busy updating its product line-up ahead of the Christmas season. The company has said its new iPhones will be available in about 100 countries by the end of the year.
The new iPhone 5c is mainly last year's model with colourful cases. The handset is seen as Apple's bid to win more customers in emerging markets.
A new iPad Air also goes on sale on Friday in the US, followed later in the month by an updated iPad mini with a high-definition screen.
The seasonal releases arrive as some of the momentum in the smartphone and tablet industries has shifted toward the lower-end of the market.
Apple also is being pressured to return more money to shareholders. Billionaire activist investor Carl Icahn has been on a publicity campaign to get Apple to initiate a $150bn buyback to boost the company's stock price. (Bloomberg)