Apple suffers as results show sales stutter

New York

Investors in Apple were left unimpressed with the tech giant's share price slumping in after-hours trading after it missed Wall Street hopes for iPhone sales and revenues, reviving concerns about future growth that have already driven down its stock by more than a quarter since its peak in September.

The Californian firm shifted 47.8 million iPhones in the 13 weeks to the end of December, against some analysts' expectations of around 50 million, while it sold around 23 million iPads. Revenues, meanwhile, rose to $54.5bn, which though healthy – the figure was up by double digits – was lower than an average forecast of around $54.7bn.

Much was riding on the figures, as Apple shares have been trending lower ever since they hit a high of over $700 in September. They closed at around $514, having dipped below the $500 mark earlier in the month.

But the figures, the result for the first quarter of the company's 2013 fiscal year, led to a sharp drop. An hour and a half or so after the end of regular market hours, the stock was down by more than 8 per cent.

The company, led by Tim Cook, who succeeded the late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs in 2011, said net income over the quarter was little changed at $13.07bn.

The post-results share price fall underscored the pressure on Mr Cook to show the company – the world's biggest technology business – can still keep growing in the face of competition from rivals such as Samsung, which has been winning kudos for its Galaxy range of smartphones.

Even before the latest results, rumblings had been growing about what lies in store for a business that has had a spectacular run of growth over the last 10 years. With recent reports pointing to possible production cutbacks for the iPhone, fresh questions are likely to be asked about the product pipeline – something Mr Cook appeared to have been mindful of when announcing the results.

"We're thrilled with record revenue of over $54bn and sales of over 75 million iOS devices in a single quarter," he said, adding: "We're very confident in our product pipeline as we continue to focus on innovation and making the best products in the world."

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