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Apple shares tumble after supply crunch hurts iPhone maker’s sales

October 28, 2021, 10:17 PM UTC

Apple shares fell in late trading after quarterly revenue missed analysts’ estimates, hurt by supply constraints that took a bigger-than-expected bite out of sales.

Fiscal fourth-quarter revenue amounted to $83.4 billion, the tech giant said Thursday, missing estimates of $84.7 billion. That represents growth of 29% from the year-earlier period, but that quarter didn’t include a new iPhone. Apple released the iPhone 13 in the last few weeks of the latest quarter, helping bolster sales.

The results spark fresh concerns about Apple’s ability to navigate a global supply crunch that has wreaked havoc on the auto, tech and consumer-product industries. The company has a slew of new products that it needs to get into consumers’ hands before the holidays, a period that’s expected to set sales records. In addition to the iPhone upgrade, the company has rolled out new watches, iPads, Mac computers and other items.

Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook said on a conference call that the supply constraints were worse than expected last quarter and cost it about $6 billion. Consumer demand was very strong, he said.

The shares tumbled as much as 5.3% to $144.42 in late trading after the results were released. They had been up 15% this year through Thursday’s close.

Last quarter, Apple generated $38.9 billion in sales from the iPhone — its flagship product — including purchases of the new and old models. That missed Wall Street expectations of $41.6 billion.

Supply shortages hit the new models immediately after launch and persisted over the following weeks. Customers seeking to buy new iPhones, iPads, Apple Watches and Mac models have found that the products won’t be delivered until late November or even December. 

The Cupertino, California-based company didn’t provide formal guidance for the current quarter, but analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg are calling for revenue of about $120 billion. 

Apple generated $9.2 billion in Mac revenue last quarter, up 1.6% year over year, which was also below estimates. Apple released new MacBook Pros earlier this week, too late to be counted in the fourth-quarter results. Instead, the company relied on sales of last year’s MacBook Air and MacBook Pro models in addition to iMacs that were announced in April. 

The iPad, meanwhile, did better than expected. It generated $8.25 billion in the quarter, up 21% from last year. Wall Street had called for $7.2 billion. Apple launched new versions of the iPad mini and entry-level iPad during the quarter. It also announced new iPad Pros models in April. 

The wearables, home and accessories division — a unit that includes the Apple Watch, Apple TV, AirPods, Beats headphones, the HomePod and other items — produced $8.79 billion during the quarter. That was up 12% from a year earlier but below the average estimate of $9.28 billion.

The business had a difficult comparison with last year’s numbers. In September 2020, the company released the Apple Watch Series 6, but this year’s Series 7 didn’t go on sale until the current quarter. 

Services revenue climbed 26% to $18.3 billion, despite global economic reopenings that jeopardized growth. With people going back to work and school in-person, there were concerns that they’d have less time to consume entertainment services. Analysts had projected $17.6 billion.

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