Apple shares take a beating

Apple shares plunged Thursday after the company reported quarterly results that point to growth slowing after five blowout years. The stock ended down $63.51 or 12 percent, at $450.50.

Apple Inc. is still the world’s most valuable company, a position it’s held for more than a year. It’s now worth just 3.5 percent more than No. 2 Exxon Mobil Corp, however.

Late Wednesday, Apple reported October-December earnings that were flat compared with the year before. Sales grew 18 percent from the year before, but the startup of production lines for multiple new products like the iPhone 5 and iPad Mini held back profits.

Of more concern to investors is Apple sales growth forecast for the current quarter of around 7 percent — far from the 50-percent-plus rate it’s often hit in recent years.

— Staff and wire reports

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