Apple investors underwhelmed by earnings

January 23, 2013 7:21:46 PM PST
The polish may have finally worn off at Apple. The company Wednesday turned in an earnings report that, for the first time in years, didn't show a double digit increase. And Wall Street showed that what goes up, must come down: stock that once traded at more than $700 a share fell by more than $50 in after-hours trading, now well below $500.

Apple has had consistently good quarters, beating Wall Street estimates with few exceptions. It was the one tech company that didn't seem impacted by the recession. But there's a nagging concern its rapid growth is slowing, mostly because competitors are catching up and coming up with innovations of their own.

Michael Copeland is senior editor at Wired in San Francisco. He says consumers have choices now.

"They like all the smartphones out there from Samsung, from LG for that matter; there's the Nexus 4, which everyone seems to want to get their hands on, so the marketplace in many ways has caught up to Apple," he said.

Apple says it sold an iPhone or iPad every 10 seconds during the holidays -- that's almost 48 million iPhones and nearly 23 million iPads. But its $13.1 billion profit was exactly the same as what it made during the same quarter a year earlier.

Apple may also be losing its grip on its most loyal customers if Barton Bishoff is any indication.

"I switched to this Samsung about a year and a half ago, and I used an iPhone for two years, but it's lighter, it's thinner, the screen is bigger, and I've just been really happy with it ever since," the former iPhone user said.

However, Apple fans remain convinced there's no better technology.

"I've pretty much stuck with Apple products since the beginning; I have computers, laptops and phones and a couple of iPad minis," Fremont resident Michael Magtoto said. "It's pretty streamlined. It's easy to use, so that's why I stick to Apple."

Apple stock has lost about one-fourth of its value since hitting a $700 high last September. Yet its horde of cash keeps growing, now estimated at $137 billion. The question is whether that cash can help it develop the next big thing or allow it to buy a promising start-up with a hot new idea.

CEO Tim Cook says its main mission is to keep making products people love.

"It will have its ups and downs, and you can't base the long-term future of a company based on one or two quarters," technology analyst Larry Magid said.

Do you have a stake in Apple's stock price? Almost 20 percent of all mutual funds have Apple in their investment portfolio.

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