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Apple slips, moneymen pounce

Quarterly financial results miss projections

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Apple has released its financial results for its fourth fiscal quarter, and in doing so it handed conservative Wall Street prognosticators a rare win: Cupertino failed to meet or exceed analysts expectations for the first time in many a moon.

On Monday, Fortune averaged a number of independent analysts's predictions and came up with a healthy earnings-per-share forecast of $8.88. Citigroup bumped its estimate of Apple's EPS from $8.14 to $8.54.

Far less optimistic, however, was the Thomson Reuters estimate, which is based on the considered opinions of 46 institutional analysts. As reported by Yahoo! Finance, those worthies predicted that Apple's earnings per share would come in at $7.28.

Apple's actual earnings per share for the fourth quarter, which ended on September 24, was a mere $7.05.

In addition, Thomson's analysts' consensus on Apple's earnings for the quarter was $29.45bn. Cupertino slipped there, as well, with actual earnings of $28.27bn, which resulted in a quarterly net profit of $6.62bn

Don't get us wrong – Apple is far from slipping down the crapper. In fact, when compared with the year-ago quarter, which had revenues of $20.34bn and net profits of $4.31bn, these numbers are positively rosy.

But when compared with analysts' expectations, they're a disappointment.

We're betting that Apple's missing the Street's projections may have been due to depressed iPhone 4 sales in the run-up to the iPhone 4S's introduction – and the fact that four million of the new handsets were sold during its first weekend of availability indicates that there was, indeed, quite a bit of pent-up demand.

But Wall Street isn't happy: Apple's stock dove by over 6 per cent in the immediate aftermath of the earnings announcement.

The moneymen are merciless. To twist a baseball metaphor, in the stock game you're only as good as your next at bat. ®

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