While it would take a crowbar to pry iPhones and iPads out of the hands of their fans, investors have been falling out of love lately with the company that makes them.
On Wednesday, Apple did not appear to provide a strong enough reason for investors to warm to it again. It said its profits were flat because of higher manufacturing costs, even as revenue rose 18 percent. The results exceeded analysts’ profit forecasts and just missed their revenue estimates.
Apple said revenue from the iPhone jumped 28 percent during the crucial holiday-shopping season, when the company’s products fly off store shelves like they do at no other time of the year.
The results arrived with an unusual level of anticipation, even for a company as high-profile as Apple, because of anxiety among some investors about Apple’s ability to sustain its growth and create new hit products. Apple’s stock has lost about a quarter of its value since September, erasing more than $170 billion of its market value.
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The results sent Apple’s stock tumbling nearly 10 percent during after-hours trading.
Apple said its net income for its fiscal first quarter ending Dec. 29 was $13.1 billion, or $13.81 a share, compared with $13.1 billion, or $13.87 a share, in the same period a year earlier.
The company’s revenue was $54.5 billion, up from $46.33 billion a year ago.
Those results compared to the share average earnings estimate of $13.44 and average revenue estimate of $54.73 billion from analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters.
“Sentiment has turned super-pessimistic on Apple, where they’ve gone from being able to do no wrong to suddenly being able to do no right,” said Rob Cihra, an analyst at Evercore Partners. “I tend to think the company’s momentum is a heck of a lot more solid than people are concerned about.”
Subscribers flock, so Netflix rocks
SAN FRANCISCO — Netflix has re-emerged as a stock-market star after a fourth-quarter performance that demonstrated its success in broadening the appeal of its Internet-video service amid stiffer competition.
The results announced Wednesday served as a resounding endorsement of Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, who has been spending heavily to license more compelling movies and TV shows in hopes of warding off intensifying competitive threats.
Companies such as Seattle’s Amazon.com and Bellevue-based Coinstar’s Redbox have expanded into streaming video to Internet-connected devices to compete with Netflix.
Netflix’s strategy has been met with widespread skepticism, but it paid off during the final three months of last year. Netflix gained 2 million video-streaming subscribers in the U.S. during the quarter, propelling the company to a profit during a period that was supposed to produce a loss.
In a letter to investors, Hastings credited the gains to people’s interest in watching a wide range of entertainment on the tablet computers and Internet-connected TVs that they got as holiday gifts.
“As the sales of tablets go, apparently so go the fortunes of Netflix,” Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter said.
Investors were euphoric. Netflix’s volatile stock soared $36.54, or more than 35 percent, to $139.80 in extended trading after the numbers came out.
Online-holiday ads boost Google profit
Google rose the most since 2011 after reporting profit that topped analysts’ estimates as advertisers boosted spending to reach consumers during the holiday season.
Fourth-quarter profit, excluding certain items, rose to $10.65 a share, Google said in a statement yesterday. Analysts had projected per-share earnings of $10.50, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The adjusted figure excludes items such as taxes tied to stock-based compensation. Net income rose 6.7 percent to $2.89 billion, or $8.62 a share.
Google’s earnings were boosted after retailers poured money into online advertising and extended the gift-buying season. That’s helping compensate as Google relies more on mobile advertising, which tends to be less lucrative than ads on PCs.
Google shares rose 5.5 percent to $741.50 at the close in New York, their biggest gain since October 2011.
— Bloomberg News