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Apple Misses, Stock Tanks, Blame the Rumor Mill
It sold only 26 million iPhones, down 26% sequentially. Wall Street expected maybe 28 million or better

Apple missed by Wall Street standards when it reported its Q3 numbers Tuesday and its stock tanked, dropping more than 5% after-hours, down roughly 31 bucks to $570 at best.

It sold only 26 million iPhones, down 26% sequentially. Wall Street expected maybe 28 million or better.

On the other hand, it sold 17 million iPads, which was better than the 15 milion-16 million the Street figured. It also got off 6.8 million iPods and four million Macs, up 2% and better than negative 1% IDC is giving the industry.

At $35 billion revenues, although up 23%, it fell short of the $37.2 billion analysts expected. Ditto earnings. They were up 21% to $9.32 a share, but Wall Street wanted $10.35.

Of course Apple had only guided to $8.68 on $35 billion so maybe it's Wall Street that ought to get a grip on its inflated expectations ahead of a big product transition. The Wall Street Journal remembers that the same thing happened when Apple reported its September quarter ahead of the arrival of the iPhone 4S last year.

Alternately maybe Apple can wave the numbers under noses of judges and juries around the world to argue that Android is unfairly eating its lunch.

During the conference call CEO Tim Cook said he was happy with the results, especially with the iPad, pointing out that it was altogether a record June quarter.

"We would not have dreamed of selling more than 17 million iPads," he said.

iPad units were up 84% year-over-year producing revenues up 52% to $9.2 billion. That makes 84 million units since iPad first came out. The new iPad is the most popular model despite discounts on the iPad 2, which is selling well in K-12.

Demand for Apple products was centered in the US and China. Cook said he saw no macro issues in China. The iPhone is up 100% in China. Japan is producing for it too, up 45%. However, Asia-Pacific revenues, which include China but not Japan, dropped 22% sequentially to $7.9 billion, which Cook attributed to iPhone channel inventory and seasonality.

He also ticked off the problem points: Apple's sales shutter and pause every time there's another iPhone rumor, which is practically every day now; Western Europe, especially France, Greece and Italy, sucked, while Australia, Brazil and Canada were off, the UK was okay, Eastern Europe was relatively strong but Germany was flat; the new iPad didn't make it to Mainland China during the quarter because of the fuss over who owns the trademark while the new MacBook was trapped somewhere in China's approval process; the Intel Ivy Bridge rumors didn't help Mac sales any; plus the dollar is strong.

However, considering the ASPs, the lowest on the iPhone since 2010 and the lowest on the iPad ever, people are also buying cheaper Apple products.

This quarter Apple figures it'll do $7.65 on $34 billion, steeply off the $10.22 on $38 billion Wall Street was projecting. Investors will just have to start conjuring what Apple's December and March quarters will bring with the possible introduction of an iPad mini and an iPhone 5 that's supposedly thinner with a bigger screen.

Mountain Lion, the next iOS rev, hits Wednesday and will have iCloud built in as well as 200 improvements.

Apple will start paying a quarterly dividend of $2.65 of August 16. It's also supposed to start buying back stock.

Apple ended the June quarter with an incredible $117.2 billion in the bank, up from $110 billion the previous quarter.

About Maureen O'Gara
Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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