Shares of Apple stock closed down today at $78.20, representing the stocks lowest trading price in just over two years. Last year at this time, Apple was trading at $192 a share before weaker than expected earnings forecasts brought the stock back down to earth in early 2008. Since hitting an all-time high of $200 a share in December 2007, the stock has plummeted over 60%. In fact, the last time Apple was trading below $80, both the iPhone and iPod Touch had yet to be introduced.
A weakening economy and concerns about Steve Jobs’ health have driven the stock downwards as of late, but the main culprit has been a tough and challenging economic environment that has had every tech stock reeling.
Apple is set to release its earnings tomorrow after trading closes, and investors will be watching closely to see how Apple fared this holiday season. Initial reports suggest that Apple sold a significantly greater number of iPods than previously anticipated, with better than expected Mac sales as well. Specifically, Apple analyst Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray (who is more accurate than most other analysts who cover Apple) wrote in a client note earlier today that he thinks Apple sold 2.5 million Macs this past quarter, and nearly 20 million iPods.
How do his projections stack up to Apple’s performance from last year? Well, last year during the same quarter, Apple reported sales of 2.3 million Macs, and 22 million iPods, which together with the iPhone, helped Apple rake in over $9.6 billion in revenue and $1.58 billion in profit. It’s earnings per share during the quarter was $1.76, and it’s earnings per share during the same quarter two years ago was $1.14 a share.
When Apple last released earnings last October, Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer projected EPS for the most recent quarter to be anywhere between $1.06 and $1.35 a share, and revenue to be anywhere between 9 and 10 billion. Talk about leaving room for error..