* iPad disappoints, results fail to impress
* Investors focusing on holiday quarter
* Competition fierce over the holidays
(Adds earnings details, analysts' comments, byline)
By Poornima Gupta
SAN FRANCISCO, Oct 25 Apple Inc
delivered another quarter of lackluster results and iPad sales
fell well short of Wall Street targets, pushing its stock down
more than 1 percent.
The world's most valuable technology company, whose share
price flirted after hours with sub-$600 levels for the first
time since August, delivered results largely in line with
expectations. It had missed revenue forecasts a quarter ago.
Apple sold fewer iPads than anticipated as the economy
remained weak and consumers waited for the new iPad mini, which
will hit store shelves next month.
Analysts say the real test for the company will come during
the crucial holiday shopping season, when competition will reach
fever-pitch with Apple, Amazon.com Inc, Google Inc
and Microsoft Corp all fielding new gadgets.
"Going into earnings we were wondering if the slowing
economy will catch up with Wall Street and it has," said
Channing Smith, co-manager of the Capital Advisors Growth Fund.
"Apple is very well positioned with the iPad and now the
iPad mini. It has a great smartphone and we expect the iPhone 5
to sell very well. The outlook is conservative but that's not
surprising. Err on the side of caution is a proven formula."
Apple shipped 26.9 million iPhones, somewhat higher than the
25 million to 26 million that Wall Street analysts had
predicted. Sales of the iPad came in at 14 million in the fiscal
fourth quarter, well below lowered forecasts for the tablet.
It had just nine selling days of the new iPhone 5 in its
fiscal fourth quarter - meaning all eyes are now trained on the
current holiday quarter.
Apple ended its fiscal 2012 with a 45 percent increase in
revenue to $156.5 billion, while net income was up 61 percent.
For the final fiscal quarter, it posted net income of $8.2
billion or $8.67 a diluted share in the fiscal fourth quarter,
versus $6.6 billion or $7.05 a share a year earlier. Its
earnings beat analysts' average forecast for $8.75.
Fiscal fourth quarter revenue rose to $35.96 billion,
roughly in line with the average analyst estimate of 35.8
billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
"Despite what you are reading about Europe, we did far
better than our competitors," Apple Chief Financial Officer
Peter Oppenheimer said in an interview.
Apple heads into the quarter after refreshing almost all of
its product lines, including introducing an upgraded,
fourth-generation full-sized iPad. The December quarter will
show how well consumers respond to Apple's latest gamble - the
new, smaller iPad mini that will goes on sale Nov. 2.
Sterne Agee's Shaw Wu attributed some of the quarter's weak
iPad sales to Apple holding back supply of the third-generation
iPad to stores, to clear the shelves ahead of the latest iPad.
"We were happy with the 14 million iPad sales in the
quarter. It exceeded our expectations," Oppenheimer said. "But
as the summer went on, the rumors were pretty rampant about the
iPhone and iPad."
For the December quarter, Apple forecast revenue of $52
billion, below the average estimate of $55 billion, according to
Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Apple ended the quarter with $121.3 billion in cash and
securities, of which $83 billion was offshore, Oppenheimer said.
(Reporting by Poornima Gupta; Editing by Richard Chang)