Apple’s Mixed Results

Apple Inc. reported its fourth consecutive quarter of record revenue and profit, as the combination of higher iPhone prices and strong app-store sales propelled the technology giant to its best year ever.

But the world’s most valuable company offered guidance for the current period that disappointed many investors and said it would stop reporting unit sales for its products—a measure closely watched by investors—raising questions about the prospects for strong sales of new gadgets it has unveiled in the past two months.

Shares of Apple fell 6.5% to $207.76 in after-hours trading, making it the latest tech company to be punished after announcing results during a period of stock-market turmoil. Tech shares have tanked over the past several weeks amid investor unease with sky-high valuations, as well as slowing revenue growth and rising costs at some companies. Controversies over the power and responsibility of some internet platforms like Facebook Inc. and Google have fueled the concerns.

Apple said on its earnings call that starting next quarter, the company will no longer break out individual sales numbers for the iPhone, iPad and Mac. The three main product lines will be wrapped into one reported revenue figure.

“When you look at our financial performance in recent years, take the last three years for example, the number of units sold during any quarter has not been necessarily representative of the underlying strength of our business,” CFO Luca Maestri said on the call. “If you look at our net income during the last three years, if you look at our stock price in the last three years, there’s no correlation to the units sold in any given period.”

In the September quarter, Apple’s China business, which has been accelerating in recent quarters, continued to improve even as the Chinese economy weakens. Sales in Greater China, which includes Hong Kong and Taiwan, rose 16% to $11.41 billion in the period.

 

Todd “Bubba” Horwitz