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Apple Undercuts Outlook; Stock Takes a Beating

Apple reported earnings that easily surpassed analysts' forecasts, but the company gave a second-quarter outlook that fell far below expectations.

AP

Apple shares plunged about 15 percent Wednesday.

The computing and electronics company said it earned $1.76 a share and garnered sales of $9.6billion. In the same period last year, Apple turned in earnings of $1.14 a share on sales of $7.115 billion.

Apple was seen earning $1.62 a share on sales of $9.465 billion in its fiscal first quarter, according to a consensus estimate compiled by Thomson Financial.

But the company put its second-quarter outlook at 94 cents a share on sales of $6.8 billion, far below forecasts of a $1.09-a-share profit and $6.99 billion in revenue.

Gross margin for the most recent quarter was 34.7 percent, up from 31.2 percent in the year-ago quarter, Apple reported.

The company said international sales accounted for 45 percent of the latest quarter's revenue.

Apple shipped 2.32 million Macintosh computers, up 44 percent in units and 47 percent by revenue from a year-ago.

"Investors are nervous about strength in consumer and even though Mac shipments were quite strong, iPods were light versus expectations," said Analyst Shannon Cross of Cross Research.

The company said it sold 22.1 million iPods during the quarter, representing 5 percent unit growth and 17 percent revenue growth over the year-ago quarter. IPhone sales were 2.32 million for the quarter.

Apple expects gross profit margin of about 32 percent in its fiscal second quarter, Chief Financial Officer Peter Oppenheimer said.

The margin would fall from the first quarter's 34.7 percent due to higher expenses related to stock-based compensation, slower software sales and lower sequential revenue, Oppenheimer told a conference call.

-- Wire services contributed to this report.