Has Wall Street gone bonkers? This week, Apple reported a hefty $9 billion profit for the third quarter of its fiscal year, up 21 percent from the same quarter in 2011, thanks to rising sales of its iPhone and iPad. However, analysts had expected an even more dazzling hike of 33 percent, and Apple's share price stumbled about 4 percent the day after the earnings report was released. Investors appeared to be primarily concerned that iPhone sales, while strong, are slowing down, with many prospective buyers waiting until a new iteration of the iPhone is unveiled in the fall. Is the stock market overreacting to Apple's earnings report?

No. Apple is facing a leadership crisis: Investors aren't sure there will be "smashing iPhone 5 sales come the holiday shopping season," says Rocco Pendola at The Street. That's because CEO Tim Cook is no Steve Jobs. Apple rarely missed earnings estimates on Jobs' watch, because the late visionary was able "to deliver new products to the public that sell as well as, if not better than, all the products that came before them." Apple's stock is sinking because the "gap between Apple and everybody else continues to close in the Tim Cook era."
"Apple stock is dead; sell it on a bounce"

Yes. The stock market is out of its mind: Apparently, "it doesn't matter how well Apple or any other company may have done in absolute terms" — what matters is whether they meet Wall Street's absurd expectations, says Zachary Karabell at The Daily Beast. "The financial world is currently gripped by the pathology of quarterly earnings, short-termism, and fear," which is the only reason why a thriving company with $35 billion in quarterly sales is being "treated as deficient and faltering."
"Wall Street's irrational negative reaction to Apple's earnings report"

And it's hurting American businesses: Fans are already breathless over the iPhone 5, and Apple's future earnings are bound to be solid, says Robert A. Levine at The Moderate Voice. Yet "long term growth prospects of many companies are considered secondarily, if at all, with quarterly earnings and revenues driving the stock's price." And that's skewing corporate strategy: "If American businesses are to remain world leaders and continue their history of innovation and growth, companies should be thinking long term instead of scrambling each quarter to reach Wall Street's estimates." After all, it was the short-term dynamic that sank risk-taking investment banks during the financial crisis.
"Delayed gratification and Wall Street's skewed priorities"