Apple earnings (and forecast) fall short of Wall Street estimates

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Apple beat Wall Street's expectations, again.
Apple beat its own guidance but missed Wall Street's fevered expectations.
Photo: Apple

Apple’s earnings fell just shy of Wall Street’s expectations for third-quarter revenue despite continued strong sales of the iPhone 6, which helped the company bring in $49.6 billion in gross revenue and $10.7 billion in profit.

Perhaps even worse for AAPL, the company’s fourth-quarter revenue forecast fell short of analysts’ best guesstimates.

Even with the iPhone 6s announcement looming this fall, iPhone 6 revenue was up 59 percent over last year, thanks largely to strong demand in China. The official sales figures of the Apple Watch weren’t announced (as we expected they wouldn’t). Sales for the iPad were down but the Mac had another record-breaking quarter, which Apple CEO Tim Cook called “amazing.”

We had an amazing quarter, with iPhone revenue up 59 percent over last year, strong sales of Mac, all-time record revenue from services, driven by the App Store, and a great start for Apple Watch,” said Tim Cook. “The excitement for Apple Music has been incredible, and we’re looking forward to releasing iOS 9, OS X El Capitan and watchOS 2 to customers in the fall.”

Q3 is traditionally Apple’s slowest quarter of the year, but the company had a lot to be happy about heading into the fall quarter. Analysts expected Apple to bring in $50.61 billion of revenue, according to a Fortune survey. Apple’s own projection for the quarter was between $46 billion and $48 billion.

Apple sold 47.5 million iPhones in Q3, but Wall Street was expecting 48.8 million. iPad sales reached 10.9 million units, while 4.7 million Macs were sold. Gross margin was 39.7 percent compared to 39.4 percent in the year-ago quarter. Apple Watch sales weren’t disclosed, but the company’s “Other products” category saw a 49 percent increase from Q3 2014.

Apple’s guidance for Q4 revenue — which the company typically beats — came in between $49 billion and $51 billion, slightly less than the $51.1 billion average predicted by analysts in a survey by Thomson Reuters.