While it would take a crowbar to pry iPhones and iPads out of the hands of their fans, investors have been falling out of love lately with the company that makes them.
On Wednesday, Apple did not appear to provide a strong enough reason for investors to warm to it again. It said its profits were flat because of higher manufacturing costs, even as revenue rose 18 percent. The results exceeded analysts' profit forecasts and just missed their revenue estimates.
Apple said revenue from the iPhone jumped 28 percent during the crucial holiday shopping season, when the company's products fly off store shelves as they do at no other time of the year.
The results arrived with an unusual level of anticipation because of anxiety among some investors about Apple's ability to sustain its growth and create new hit products. Apple's stock has lost about a quarter of its value since September, erasing more than $170 billion of its market value.
The results sent Apple's stock tumbling 6 percent during after-hours trading.
Apple said its net income for its fiscal first quarter ending Dec. 29 was $13.1 billion, or $13.81 a share, compared with $13.1 billion, or $13.87 a share, in the same period a year earlier. The company's revenue was $54.5 billion, up from $46.33 billion a year ago.
Those results compared to the per-share average earnings estimate of $13.44 and average revenue estimate of $54.73 billion from analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters. Apple itself had previously told Wall Street to expect earnings of $11.75 a share and revenue of $52 billion, although the company has a history of lowballing its own forecasts.
"Sentiment has turned super-pessimistic on Apple, where they've gone from being able to do no wrong to suddenly being able to do no right," said Rob Cihra, an analyst at Evercore Partners. "I tend to think the company's momentum is a heck of a lot more solid than people are concerned about."
Cihra said Apple's iPhone and iPad sales missed some of the most optimistic forecasts, but "all in, it was a pretty darned good quarter."
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