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Apple says sales growth slowing

Apple expects sales of between $41 billion and $43 billion in the current quarter that ends in March.

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Apple expects sales of between $41 billion and $43 billion in the current quarter that ends in March.

NEW YORK — Apple Inc. warned Wednesday that the blockbuster sales growth of the last five years is slowing drastically, as iPhone sales are starting to plateau.

The outlook sent Apple shares plunging by 10 percent, wiping out a year’s worth of gains.

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Analysts said the warning suggested that Apple can no longer sustain its growth without some completely new product. Its last revolutionary product launch was the iPad in 2010.

Apple said it expects sales of between $41 billion and $43 billion in the current quarter, which ends in March. That would usually be little cause for concern, even though analysts were expecting $45.6 billion, because Apple usually lowballs its forecasts. But chief financial officer Peter Oppenheimer said the company is changing its practices.

Apple’s enviable profit growth also hit a wall in the October to December quarter. It said net income in the fiscal first quarter was $13.1 billion, or $13.81 per share, flat with a year ago. That still beat expectations, as analysts polled by FactSet had forecast earnings of $13.48 per share.

Revenue was $54.5 billion, up 18 percent from a year ago. Analysts were expecting $55 billion.

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