Record iPad sales can't keep Apple from missing expectations

New products this quarter will decrease gross margins, says CFO

Apple on Tuesday announced record sales of its iPad tablet, but missed Wall Street's consensus on total revenue.

During an earnings call with analysts and reporters, Apple said it had sold 17 million iPads, an increase of 84% over the same period last year, and 26 million iPhones, or 28% more than it dealt out in the second quarter of 2011.

Total revenue of $35 billion, however, missed Wall Street's expectations of between $37 and $38 billion, depending on the source. Sales were up 23% over last year's second quarter.

Net profit was $8.8 billion, up 20.7% from 2011.

"It was certainly not bad, but short of what the Street expected," said Van Baker, an analyst with Gartner.

Others said much the same.

"They are performing well, they're growing, they're immensely profitable and they're executing their strategy," noted Ezra Gottheil of Technology Business Research. "But growth was merely impressive, and not explosive."

The clear star of the quarter was the iPad, Apple's two-year-old tablet. Its share of all revenue jumped from 16.6% in the first quarter to 26.2% in the one ending June 30.

That ended a short-lived trend where the iPhone fueled more than half of all sales: For the last two quarters, the iPhone accounted for over 50% of the company's sales. Last quarter, however, the success of the iPad pushed the iPhone's contribution under the bar to 46.4%.

"The iPad was the brightest point of all," said Gottheil. "It was a pretty spectacular quarter [for the tablet]."

The quarter was the best-ever three-month stretch for the iPad, with the 17 million tablets besting the previous record of 15.4 million in 2011's fourth quarter by 10.4%. iPad revenue of $9.2 billion was also a record, but barely so: Sales were just 2% higher than that earlier record.

Apple has sold 26.3 million iPads in the first six months of 2012. One million of the 17 sold last quarter went to educational buyers, said Peter Oppenheimer, Apple's CFO.

While the iPhone's importance to revenue decreased slightly, Apple sold 26 million, a record for the June quarter, said Oppenheimer. iPhone sales totaled $16.2 billion.

What many pundits focused on, however, was that iPhone sales were down 26% from the first quarter, when Apple sold 35.1 million units.

Both Oppenheimer and CEO Tim Cook attributed the slowing of growth and the sequential dip to several factors, including struggling economies in some parts of the world, notably Europe; high inventories during the first quarter as the company ramped up supply to meet demand for the iPhone 4S; and what Cook called "rumor and speculation" about a next-generation smartphone.

Apple revenue by product line
The iPad's portion of all revenue (in green) jumped to 26% last quarter, while the iPhone (in red) fell under 50% for the first time since September 2011. (Data: Apple.)
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