For years, Apple investors and customers marveled as the number of iPhones sold seemed to defy gravity. Now the show is coming to an end.
Apple said Thursday it plans to stop reporting how many iPhones, iPads and Macs it sells each quarter, in what could be a nod to flatlining growth in some of these product lines. Apple will continue to report revenue for these categories.
The move was just one of the concerning announcements Apple made Thursday. The company also said it expects sales in the all-important holiday quarter to be between $89 billion and $93 billion, skewing short of analyst estimates. At the low end of that range, Apple’s holiday sales would be little improved from the record $88.3 billion it reported a year ago.
Apple stock fell as much as 7% in after hours trading Thursday following the earnings report. If those losses hold, Apple risks losing its status as the lone trillion-dollar company.
The holiday sales forecast is closely watched as it offers the first real glimpse into expected demand for Apple’s new lineup of iPhones. The pricier iPhone XS and XS Max went on sale in the final days of the September quarter, and the more affordable XR went on sale last month.
On a conference call with analysts Thursday, Apple CFO Luca Maestri cited a difference in “launch timing” for its new products. In 2017, the priciest mode, the iPhone X, went on sale in October. This year, the higher end models went on sale in September.
In addition, Maestri said “foreign exchange headwinds” could have a roughly $2 billion negative impact on Apple’s sales for the upcoming quarter. He also cited macroeconomic concerns in emerging markets.
Dan Morgan, senior portfolio manager at Synovus Trust, called the forecast “discouraging” given broader concerns on Wall Street about slowing global growth, trade tariffs and foreign exchange rates.
Apple’s sales for the three months ending in September hit $62.9 billion, up 20% from a year prior, fueled by the higher price tag of the iPhone and continued growth of supplementary services such as Apple Pay and iCloud. The average selling price of iPhones during the quarter rose to $793, a significant bump from $618 a year prior.
Yet sales of Apple’s flagship device were essentially flat. Apple sold 46.9 million iPhones during the quarter, coming in slightly below analyst estimates and virtually unchanged from a year ago.
This is the new story for Apple. These days, it’s less about how many more iPhones the company can sell from one year to the next than how much additional revenue it can squeeze out of its flagship product through price hikes and the growth of supplementary services like Apple Pay, iCloud and Apple Music subscriptions.
However, the results come at a time when tech stocks, and the market overhaul, have faced significant turbulence. In the past week, Facebook, Amazon and Google released earnings results with lighter sales numbers than Wall Street expected.
Now Apple may be the latest to suffer the curse of the FAANG stocks.