Here’s what you might think is the key line from Apple’s 2012 Q3 earnings report: “The Company posted quarterly revenue of $35.0 billion and quarterly net profit of $8.8 billion, or $9.32 per diluted share. These results compare to revenue of $28.6 billion and net profit of $7.3 billion, or $7.79 per diluted share, in the year-ago quarter.”
In other words, on a year-over-year basis profits grew about 20 percent.
Yet their stock is tanking, down a bit over 5 percent today. That’s because they came in below expectations nearly across the board. They sold fewer Macs and fewer iPhones than expected. Earnings grew by less than expected. Profit margins grew by less than expected. Sales of iPods and iPads beat expectations, but on the whole it was disappointing. So the stock declined. On the basis of 20 percent growth in profits.
The interesting thing is that one month ago, Apple had a price:earnings ratio of 14 which is exactly what you would expect from a company deemed to be in good shape but not poised for any breakthrough earnings growth. Yet 20 percent was disappointing. Market psychology is a curious beast.