Apple Posts Loss; Mac Sales Slide

Shipments of Apple's top-selling Macs fell 14 percent from a year ago.

Apple Computer Inc. posted its first net loss in almost two years as shipments of its top-selling Macs fell 14 percent from a year ago. The computer maker also warned investors on Wednesday that it expects its holiday sales will provide little to cheer about.

"We do not expect our industry to pick up any time soon, though were hoping to help put a lot of iPods (mp3 players), iMacs and iBooks under trees this holiday season," Chief Executive Officer Steve Jobs said in a statement issued Wednesday.

Apple, of Cupertino, Calif., reported a net loss of $45 million for its fiscal fourth quarter, a sharp decline from the net profit of $66 million it posted for the same quarter in 2001.

For its entire fiscal year, the company reported net earnings of $65 million on revenues of $5.74 billion, compared to a net loss of $25 million on revenues of $5.36 billion in 2001.

Looking ahead, Apple predicted sales would rise slightly for the final three months of the year, but said the increase would be less than it historically has been during the holiday season.

For its fiscal fourth quarter, Apple shipped 734,000 Mac computers, a decrease of 14 percent compared to last year. That decline was somewhat offset by strong sales of the computer makers iPod mp3 music player, currently the industrys best-selling mp3 device, with Apple selling a record 143,000 units during the three-month period.