TAIPEI Shares of Taiwan's Hon Hai Precision Industry (2317.TW) jumped on Wednesday after the main manufacturer of Apple Inc's (AAPL.O) products posted a sharp rise in quarterly net profit, boosted by new gadget launches by the California giant.
But strong early share gains were later tempered by investor caution over Apple's long-term growth prospects, analysts said.
Hon Hai, the assembler of both iPhone 5 and iPad mini launched in September and October, respectively, started mass production for the products in late August.
The company reported nine-month profit late on Tuesday of T$57.8 billion, 24 percent higher than the year-ago period.
Net profit in July-September was T$30.3 billion ($1.04 billion), according to Reuters and analyst calculations, up 58 percent from a year earlier. Profits in the quarter were 140 percent higher than the previous three months.
Hon Hai said in a brief statement that it had achieved a notable market share gain "in the midst of the European led global economic uncertainty and potential industry shrinkage," adding, however, that it could not clearly predict future trends.
It did not give further details in a statement late on Tuesday to the Taiwan stock exchange or in a subsequent statement on Wednesday.
As of 0310 GMT, shares of Hon Hai were up 1.14 percent, outperforming a 0.56 percent fall in the broader market .TWII, but easing from a 3.4 percent gain at the opening.
"The rise we saw this morning was not much given the strong Q3 figures; in fact many foreign investors have been selling Hon Hai shares recently," said Vincent Chen, analyst at Yuanta Securities.
"Many foreign investors who bought Hon Hai were buying into Apple's future, but they're now showing concerns over Apple's growth."
Last week, Apple Inc (AAPL.O) delivered a second straight quarter of disappointing results and iPad sales fell well short of Wall Street's targets, but investors said they would focus on the year-end holiday quarter.
Analysts have generally expected Hon Hai's shipments to Apple to increase in the fourth quarter as yield rates of iPhone 5 and iPad minis improved from the initial production period.
In a trading note, Barclays Capital analyst Kirk Yang said he expected fourth-quarter consolidated sales to grow by 14 percent from a year ago due to strong Apple product shipments.
"Hon Hai remains our top pick into the (fourth quarter through first quarter 2013) iPhone 5 and iPad mini product cycle," Yang said.
Hon Hai's strong results in the third quarter were also boosted by higher subsidies from Apple and a reversed charge of T$4.5 billion from investment in Sharp (6753.T). The Taiwanese company had agreed to buy 9.9 percent of Sharp for $852 million in March, but it said later in August that the two companies agreed Hon Hai did not have to honor the purchase because Sharp's shares sharply plunged after the March agreement.
While neither Apple nor Foxconn has said what the cost-sharing arrangements, if any, are between the two companies, some analysts assumed that Apple is paying higher fees for iPhone 5 and also is covering part of the cost of rising wages.
Foxconn Technology Group, the trading name of Hon Hai, announced in mid-February it had raised wages for workers by 16 to 25 percent. In late March, it reached an agreement with Apple to hire tens of thousands of new workers to reduce overtime work as it fought perceptions of its sprawling plants in China as sweatshops.
"Foxconn's margin improved owing to Apple's subsidies," said Chen, analyst at Yuanta Securities, "but the subsidy level is hard to predict in nature and it may vary each quarter."
(Editing by Jacqueline Wong and Ken Wills)