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Apple Posts Rare Earnings Miss; Outlook Disappoints

Fresh off its much-anticipated iPad mini reveal, Apple reported quarterly earnings that missed Wall Street's forecasts on Thursday and an outlook that fell shy of estimates.

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Apple shares ended the regular trading day down 1.2 percent and were halted after-hours. After shares resumed trading, they fell more than 2 percent. (Click here to get the latest quotes for Apple.)

Net income in the fiscal fourth quarter rose to $8.2 billion, or $8.67 per share, from $6.6 billion, or $7.05 per share, a year ago.

Revenue increased 27 percent to $35.97 billion from $28.27 billion a year ago.

Analysts had expected the company to report earnings excluding items of $8.75 a share on $35.8 billion in revenue, according to a consensus estimate from Thomson Reuters.

The results came as Apple heads into the crucial holiday season, when competition in the smartphone and tablet market will reach fever-pitch, with Apple pitting a new phone and iPads against Amazon.com and Google Android devices .

For the fiscal first quarter, Apple said it expects earnings of $11.75 a share on $52 billion in revenue. Analysts currently expect earnings of $15.43 per share and $55 billion in revenue.

On Apple's earnings call, executives attributed the guidance estimates to a shorter December quarter and a stronger U.S. dollar. They added that favorable items that beneffited gross margin during the fourth quarter will not help in the fiscal first quarter.

"Relative to our numbers, they were kind of in line," said Shannon Cross, an analyst at Cross Research. "What people are going to focus on is that iPad was a bit weak and iPhone was solid during the quarter. The big question comes from the guidance.''

Apple shipped 26.9 million iPhones, somewhat higher than 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.

CEO Tim Cook said the company's iPhone 5 is in a "significant state of backlog" but that "output has improved significantly" over the month. He added that he does not know when supply and demand will be in balance.

In the earnings release, the company announced that its board of directors has declared a cash dividend of $2.65 per share of common stock.

"The dividend is payable on November 15, 2012, to shareholders of record as of the close of business on November 12, 2012," the company's release said.

Shortly before the end of Apple's fourth quarter, the company launched the iPhone 5, the latest version of its popular smartphone. Apple only had nine selling days of the new iPhone 5 in its fiscal fourth quarter, which means that all eyes are now on the current holiday quarter.

Since the iPhone 5's release in stores, the company's shares have slipped more than 13 percent from their $705 all-time high. Following the earnings release, the company's shares briefly fell below $600 for the first time since July 30.

The release comes two days after the company introduced the iPad mini and an update of its popular full-sized iPad. It said it has sold more than 100 million iPads since the devices debuted in April 2010.


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