Apple iPad sales disappoint, Street eyes holiday quarter

Thu Oct 25, 2012 5:52pm EDT
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By Poornima Gupta

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - 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, 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.   Continued...

The Apple Inc. logo hangs inside the newest Apple Store in New York City's Grand Central Station December 7, 2011, during a press preview of the store, which opens to the public on Friday. REUTERS/Mike Segar