Apple shares fell more than three percent to below $585 after Verizon said it activated 25 percent fewer iPhones last quarter than it did during the last three months of 2011.
Verizon sold 3.2 million iPhones last quarter, according to the company’s chief financial officer Francis Shammo. That’s down 26 percent from the 4.3 million iPhones activated during the fourth quarter of last year.
“If Verizon's percent of iPhone sales remains stable from Q4, then this could suggest that Apple will sell 28.2 million iPhones during the past quarter,” wrote StreetInsider.com, a widely-followed provider of market insight, in a post that seemed to add to Apple selling pressure after its release.
“If this is the case, then Apple would miss the consensus of 30 million iPhone units during the quarter.”
Shares of Apple, which reports earnings next Tuesday, are off 9 percent from an all-time high reached earlier this month. An analyst atBTIG ten days ago raised concerns about Verizon and AT&T activations, saying in a note that the wireless carriers would soon stop offering as generous subsidies to Apple that allow the iPhone to retail well under its true price of $600.
“We manage it handset-by-handset and manage our subsidy and again, that's just one aspect of our P&L,” said CFO Shammo during today’s conference call, in response to a question on the iPhone subsidies.
“And this is just a nature of this business that's grown from the beginning of the industry that we subsidize handsets. I do think though it is important that there is a third ecosystem that's brought into the mix here.
And we are fully supportive of that with Microsoft , and as we said that we created the Android platform from beginning.”
To be sure, last quarter including the big holiday spending period. What’s more, some analysts countered the Verizon extrapolation analysis by noting international sales would be stronger this time around.
“We remain comfortable in our 33m unit estimate based on faster international growth fueled by the January launch of iPhone 4S in China,” wrote Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster in a note Thursday afternoon amid the Apple sell-off.
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