Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over daily movements, we do like to keep an eye on market changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.
With the Federal Reserve kicking off the October meeting of its rate-setting committee, stocks are rising this morning, with the S&P 500 and the narrower, price-weighted Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) up 0.21% and 0.25%, respectively, at 10:15 a.m. EDT.
Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) reported results for its fiscal fourth quarter ended on Sept. 30 after the market closed yesterday. The iPhone maker beat Wall Street expectations for the top and bottom line, earning $8.26 per diluted share on $37.5 billion in revenue. However, iPhone and iPad sales, respectively at 33.8 million and 14.1 million, were at or slightly below the bottom of the range analysts had forecast. Gross margin came in at 37%, and Apple expects it to remain constant in the current quarter, with a guidance range of 36.5% to 37.5%.
All in all, it looks like a respectable, if not spectacular, quarter from Apple. The stock is flat so far this morning. For more on this topic, check out the "5 Key Takeaways From Apple's Earnings Call."
What constitutes slightly disappointing iPhone sales for Apple would delight competitor Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) in light of the quarterly results Nokia reported this morning (Microsoft is acquiring Nokia's handset business). The Finnish handset-maker saw 40% growth in unit sales of its Lumia smartphone but it is starting from a much smaller base than the iPhone to achieve just 8.8 million units.
Furthermore, revenue across Nokia devices and services division fell 19% year on year to 2.9 billion euros, with negative operating margins to boot. As Reuters pointed out this morning, the chasm in scale in the smartphone market between Nokia and its chief competitors is wide; trying to bridge the gap will be an enormous challenge for Microsoft. Samsung Electronics sold 88 million smartphones in the third quarter -- 10 times as many as Nokia. The 33.8 million Apple iPhones sold in the same period and Huawei's 13 million units put the No. 2 and No. 3 makers solidly ahead of Nokia, too.
Finally, while Apple CEO Tim Cook remained coy about the timeline for the release of a new product category, Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL) is pushing forward with a "viral" rollout of its Google Glass. The "Explorers" -- testers and early adopters who received about 10,000 pairs of the wearable technology -- will each be able to nominate three people to purchase the device over the next several weeks.
Fool contributor Alex Dumortier, CFA has no position in any stocks mentioned; you can follow him on Twitter @longrunreturns. The Motley Fool recommends Apple and Google. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple, Google, and Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.