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Apple needs innovation soon, or will flatline


Published: 25 January, 2013


Apple investors have not been used to the turmoil in its stock. But they had better get used to it. Apple stock is set to seesaw and then flatline for some time to come.

Apple produced unspectacular numbers this week after persistent rumors of component suppliers having orders cancelled, or cut back. Apple still hit its biggest ever quarter with revenues of $54.5 billion, but missed analyst forecasts and offered a disappointing forecast for next quarter of between $41 billion and $43 billion, on lowering margins.

Apple sold 47.8 million iPhones, compared to 37 million in the year-ago quarter and 22.9 million iPads, compared to 15.4 million a year ago Mac and iPod sales were down, not up.

Margins and growth are what make share prices, and Apple is slowing in one, and declining in the other. Profits were an extraordinary $13.1 bn, but gross margin fell to 38.6% compared to 44.7% a year ago. Apple has ramped international sales, but probably cannot ramp them much further. It desperately needs to launch something as original and far reaching as the iPad and many people feel that its natural next target, that of TV services, has too many other technology companies sniffing around it and that all the existing TV players are terrified that Apple will take everything away from them. So it's unlikely to make inroads there, after all.

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