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Peak Apple: First 'profit slip' in a decade - and, boy, it's gonna be BIG

Clammy hand of Steve Jobs felt on cold Q2 numbers, say analysts

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Apple will reveal its first profit fall in a decade when it unveils its quarterly earnings later today, analysts say.

According to Bloomberg, Apple's fiscal second-quarter income will probably have declined by 18 percent, year on year, to $9.53 billion. And even though revenue may be up 8 percent to $42.4 billion, this is the slowest rate of sales growth since 2009.

“The market is in show-me mode for Apple,” said Laurence Balter, an analyst at Oracle Investment Research. “The market needs to see some evidence that the future looks bright because that candle is flickering.”

Last week, Apple shares tanked to below $400 for the first time since December 2011; only a tad more than the $376 they were worth on August 24 2011, when Tim Cook took the reins at Cupertino.

The profit slowdown comes as the usual group of "unnamed sources" spread rumours that CEO Tim Cook is about to be replaced - just a year and a half since stepping into the famously massive shoes of the late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.

The share slip was sparked by poor revenue predictions at Cirrus Logic, which makes most of its cash producing audio chips for Apple’s products. Experts suggested the lacklustre results could mean that Apple was planning to produce fewer iPhones due to falling demand.

The iPhone is also facing stiffer competition from other smartphones, particularly those made by arch-rival Samsung, and Cupertino has been criticised for failing to introduce yet more exciting new technology into the marketplace. Research by Gartner indicated that in the last quarter of 2012, Apple sold 43.5 million smartphones to Samsung's 64.5 million.

Vanessa Barnett, technology and media specialist at Charles Russell LLP, suggested the poor results could just be a temporary issue.

"It's interesting times in technology right now. For a number of years Apple really did kick ass in terms of the quality of its products, the design, the usability - and the hype."

“But in the last couple of years we have seen the rise of both Android as a phone OS and Samsung becoming a cool consumer technology company. So it's fashionable right now to say Apple's on the slide," Barnett commented. She continued:

"At the end of the day, they have good people, good ideas and there's still a big bit of Steve Jobs in the company's DNA. I'd call this a blip, not the beginning of the end. The patent wars will settle down, new products will be launched and the rise of Apple will begin again. Anyone who's thinking about writing them off is probably engaging in wishful thinking."

Benedict Evans, from media and tech research outfit Enders Analysis, claimed the profit slip was inevitable after Apple’s meteoric growth.

"Nobody seriously thinks there is going to be some collapse in Apple's business; the concern is how much bigger it will get. The company grew at over 50 per cent a year for almost three years and, on a purely mathematical basis, the growth rate was going to slow." ®

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