What happened

Shares of Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) declined by more than 5% after the market close on Thursday, following the tech titan's fourth-quarter earnings release. 

So what

Apple's revenue rose 1% year over year to $64.7 billion. With more people working and learning from home during the coronavirus crisis, Apple's Mac and iPad sales rose 29% and 46%, respectively. "From remote learning to the home office, Apple products have been a window to the world for users as the pandemic continues, and our teams have met the needs of this moment with creativity, passion, and the kinds of big ideas that only Apple can deliver," CEO Tim Cook said in a press release. 

A stock chart that rises sharply then falls.

After rising earlier in the day, Apple's shares sold off in after-hours trading. Image source: Getty Images.

Yet sales of iPhones fell more than 20%, to $26.44 billion. That was below Wall Street's estimates of $27.93 billion. Additionally, Apple declined to offer guidance for the first quarter of fiscal 2021, which disappointed investors hoping to gain some insight into management's expectations for sales of the company's new 5G-enabled iPhones.

Now what

During an interview with CNBC, Cook said that rising COVID-19 case counts, as well as the general economic uncertainty related to the pandemic, made giving accurate guidance difficult. Yet Cook did say that "initial data points are really quite good" for the iPhone 12's launch. 

"Despite the ongoing impacts of COVID-19, Apple is in the midst of our most prolific product introduction period ever, and the early response to all our new products, led by our first 5G-enabled iPhone lineup, has been tremendously positive," Cook said. 

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.