Apple set a new iTunes record, but fell short of some analysts' expectations when it released its earnings report Wednesday afternoon. The company had record quarterly revenue of $54.5 billion and record quarterly net profit of $13.1 billion in the fourth quarter of 2012 (the company's first fiscal quarter of 2013).
The market expected better. Analysts polled by Bloomberg expected revenue of $54.8 billion and net profit of $12.8 billion. Apple shares were down 7.5% to $475 in after-hours trading by the time the earnings call got to analysts' questions. After another 18 minutes shares had shed an additional 2.5 percentage points, falling to $462.
iTunes revenue in the fourth quarter of 2012 was $2.1 billion, up from $1.7 billion in the same period a year earlier and "almost $2.1 billion" in the previous quarter. (Not all of that revenue came from the iTunes music store; it also includes sales of movies, TV shows, books and apps.) iTunes was rolled out in 56 countries in 2012, including Russia and Hong Kong, and now operates in 119 countries.
Apple sold 47.8 million iPhones in the quarter, up from 37 million in the prior-year quarter. Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Muster was expecting 50 million, while the Bloomberg poll had an average estimate of 48 million. The company sold 22.9 million iPads, up from 15.4 million. Muster expected 23 million. Analysts polled by Bloomberg expected 22.4 million.
Wednesday's mixed performance was hardly a surprise. Expectations on earnings and Apple's growth potential varied wildly before Wednesday's earnings release. The one constant seems to be the acknowledgement that Samsung is now a legitimate competitor to Apple in the smartphone market. Samsung, which announced earlier this month its Galaxy S devices have achieved 100 million sales, reports fourth quarter earnings Friday.