Apple results will quell or feed rumors

January 21, 2013 

No company today elicits such devotion and dedication among its customers and shareholders as Apple Inc. The fervor felt by Apple fans for its products, its leaders and its business underscore the company's technological eco-centric strategy. While that loyalty to devices and software has made for rich rewards in the long term, it will mean very little to a myopic stock market when Apple reports its latest financial results Wednesday.

When a company so dominates a business, as Apple does, it is subject to plenty of rumors, especially when that company, like Apple, is disciplined not to respond to speculation.

There have been a series of worries floated in the past quarter -- some anonymous, some from Wall Street analysts -- that center on the iPhone 5. First were concerns Apple couldn't get enough supplies to build the phones fast enough.

Then there were hints Apple cut its supply orders, suggesting slower phone sales.

Apple optimists have been quick to defend the company, even as its stock has fallen from $700 to around $500 per share since September.

The stock drop has come even as Apple probably sold a record number of iPhones and iPads during the holiday quarter.

No doubt Apple will trumpet its financial prowess on Wednesday. And it should. After all, it generates hundreds of millions of dollars a day. But the short-sighted stock market has been conditioned to expect big numbers. Therein is the challenge for Apple: incubating such devotion without inflating expectations.

Tom Hudson, anchor and managing editor of "Nightly Business Report," can be followed on Twitter@HudsonNBR.

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