The iconic gadget maker missed the consensus view for its quarterly results late Tuesday; rather badly if truth be told. The company cited a slowing global economy on its conference call, namely Europe, and that's sure to cast a major pall over tomorrow's trading.
But there's also an argument to be made that Wall Street is simply expecting too much of the company. After all, Apple's own outlook was for earnings of $8.68 a share in its fiscal third quarter on revenue of roughly $34 billion, so it did fine by that measure. Unfortunately, the sell side and Apple have been dancing an awkward dance for a long time now, one where the company's outlook is always, well, overlooked, so the situation is what it is.
Even Apple itself is starting to react to the mammoth demands the market has placed on it with Chief Financial Officer Peter Oppenheimer essentially speculating on the conference call that consumer speculation about new Apple products had likely delayed purchases, contributing to the shortfall. The problem with that is it makes it seem like Apple agrees that its quarter was a disappointment, which shouldn't be the case if the company's original forecast was sincere.This quarter could end up being a watershed moment for Apple as it moves further into the post-Steve Jobs era. The game the company has been playing with the sell side for years -- soft pedaling its numbers so it can blow away an even higher consensus -- needs to end. It's embarrassing to see analysts almost apologetic for the company missing. This is the world's biggest company by market capitalization and the direction of its stock goes a long way toward determining how the broad market fares. Meanwhile, the summer of uncertainty wears on. The biggest headlines -- the presidential election, the resolution (or not) of the fiscal cliff -- may be yet to come in 2012 but we still seem to be closing in on a crossroads of sorts here in the good old United States with the Dow posting three consecutive triple-digit declines just as the yield on the 10-year Treasury bond breaks below 1.4%.
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