Macs were a source of strength for Apple, in fiscal Q3. Credit: The Motley Fool.

So much for starting a winning streak. Apple, Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) earnings came in $0.05 ahead of estimates, but revenue fell more than a half-billion short of Wall Street's targets. Specifically, Apple reported $1.28 a share in profits on $37.43 billion in revenue. Analysts were expecting $1.23 a share and $37.99 billion, respectively, according to Yahoo! Finance.

Yet it's what drove the revenue miss that initially pushed the stock down about 1% in after-hours trading. Apple's iPhone and iPad sales fell short of targets -- and, in the case of the iPad, well short of analysts' consensus view:

Median Projected
Last Year
Y-o-Y Growth

iPhones sold

35.203 million

35.78 million

31.241 million


iPads sold

13.276 million

14.43 million

14.617 million


Macs sold

4.413 million

3.93 million

3.754 million


Sources: Fortune, Apple press release.

Maybe we should have seen this coming? NPD says that worldwide tablet shipments declined in the calendar first quarter. Presuming Apple would buck the trend as it has in years past turned out to be too optimistic a view.

Regionally, China delivered the most growth year-over-year (up 28%) but accounted for a smaller portion of overall revenue than in Q2. Most analysts expect continued growth in the region as partner China Mobile (NYSE:CHL) expands its 4G infrastructure to serve advanced handsets such as the iPhone 6.

Looking ahead, Apple expects to generate between $37 billion and $40 billion in fiscal Q4 revenue while targeting a 37% to 38% gross margin. In Q3, gross margin improved to 39.4% from 36.9% in the year-ago quarter.

On the balance sheet, Apple now has $135.5 billion in net cash and investments after subtracting $29 billion worth of debt. That's up from $129.8 billion after debt in the year-ago quarter.

For Apple and investors, it was a decent but unspectacular quarter in which the Mac maker produced healthy profits while suffering mild, top-line hiccups. Nothing to get too concerned about, and certainly nothing a good dose of iPhone 6 sales won't cure.

Do you agree? What did you think of Apple's fiscal third-quarter report and lagging iPad sales? Leave a comment below to let us know where you stand.

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Tim Beyers is a member of the Motley Fool Rule Breakers stock-picking team and the Motley Fool Supernova Odyssey I mission. He owned shares of Apple at the time of publication. Check out Tim's Web home and portfolio holdings, or connect with him on Google+Tumblr, or Twitter, where he goes by @milehighfool. You can also get his insights delivered directly to your RSS reader.

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