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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.

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.

“It has been an overriding concern with Apple that they would not be able to generate revenue growth just rolling out new versions of old products,” said Jeff Sica, president and chief investment officer of SICA Wealth Management. “Now they’ve proven it in their numbers.”

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 and providing a reasonable range rather than a single, easily achievable number.

That means Apple is looking at sales growth of about 7 percent from last year’s January to March quarter, a striking number for a company that’s posted double-digit increases in every quarter except one since 2008.

Apple shares fell $51.48 to $462.59, in extended trading, after the release of the results.


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