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SAN FRANCISCO - Fewer companies' stock prices are as affected by product news as Apple Inc.'s, and the initial iPhone activation numbers from AT&T Inc. were enough to send Apple's stock down more than 6 percent in Tuesday trading.
Apple Inc. shares took a hit after AT&T issued what many saw as disappointing activation numbers for Apple's iPhone for the last two days of the second quarter, when the device first went on sale. In its second-quarter earnings report Tuesday, AT&T said it activated about 146,000 customers who bought the iPhone during those two days.
In addition, a telecommunications analyst issued a report before the opening bell that said demand for the device at retail outlets has seen a ''significant decline'' in recent days.
The news took some wind out of Apple's shares, which set a fresh high of $144.18 on Friday. By the time the market closed Tuesday, Apple's stock had fallen $8.81 a share to close at $134.89.
Anticipation over the iPhone was so intense that Apple's stock surged more than 40 percent since the company first announced the device at a trade show in early January. The stock has even risen 16 percent since June 18, when Apple announced better battery performance for the iPhone nearly two weeks before it made its debut.
The iPhone went on sale at retail outlets operated by Apple and AT&T on June 29, leaving less than two full days of sales before the end of the second quarter.
On a conference call to discuss AT&T's results, Chief Financial Officer Rick Lindner said iPhone sales expectations ''were certainly high,'' but that demand for the device continues to be strong.
AT&T's 146,000 activation number would not include buyers who purchased the device with the hopes to re-sell it through venues such as Craigslist and eBay. However, the figure seemed to worry investors who had been primed to expect much larger numbers.
Before Tuesday, analysts had been projecting opening-weekend sales for the iPhone of 200,000 to 400,000 units.