Apple beats forecasts, but shares slip

Apple (AAPL) investors gave a thumb's down to the company's latest earnings despite the company topping Wall Street forecasts.

For its fiscal first quarter, Apple reported net profits of $13.1 billion, or $14.50 per share, on revenue of $57.6 billion. Analysts had expected income of $14.09 a share and sales of $57.5 billion. But profits were were flat compared with the year-ago period, disappointing investors.

Shares of the company, which closed Monday at $551.19, were down more than 8 percent in after-hours trading.

Sales of iPhones hit a record 51 million, 7 percent better than the previous year, while the company sold 26 million iPads, up 14 percent year-over-year. Mac sales saw even stronger growth, rising 19 percent for the period.

In another positive sign for Apple, the iPhone's average sales price, which affects both the company's revenues and potential profit per sale, bucked a year-long slide and increased. The ASP was $637, compared with $577 in the previous quarter and $641 a year ago.

That pricing rebound is important for Apple, as the iPhone remains the tech titan's main financial driver. By contrast, the iPad's ASP per unit of $440 was flat from the previous quarter, and down from $466 in the previous year.

Ahead of Apple's latest earnings, Goldman Sachs (GS) analyst Bill Shope noted that iPhone and iPad sales have been strong. The company's pricier products, including the iPhone 5s and new iPad Air, have done especially well, boosting Apple's profits margins. Historically, Apple usually sees its strongest quarterly sales during the holiday season.

Such positive signals are feeding into higher expectations for Apple this year, with CEO Tim Cook recently alluding to a broader partnership with China Mobile, the biggest cell phone carrier in China. The deal should be an important component of Apple's growth strategy, as the company seeks to boost its presence in the world's largest technology market.

The going will not be easy for Apple. At least one report suggested that initial iPhone sales through China Mobile were weaker than expected. Also, average sales prices of smartphones are trending downward, according to market researcher IDC.
  • Erik Sherman On Twitter» On Facebook»

    Erik Sherman is a widely published writer and editor who also does select ghosting and corporate work. The views expressed in this column belong to Sherman and do not represent the views of CBS Interactive. Follow him on Twitter at @ErikSherman or on Facebook.