Apple on Tuesday reported a rise in its quarterly profit to $8.8 billion on hot iPad sales but the results came up short of lofty Wall Street expectations, prompting its shares to dive.
The profit in the fiscal quarter to June was up 20.5 percent from a year earlier and amounted to $9.32 dollars a share, well below the consensus forecast of $10.36 dollars.
Revenues rose 22.5 percent to $35 billion, also below expectations of more than $37 billion.
With Apple's rare miss of analyst forecasts, shares slid 5.1 percent in after-hours trade to $570.51.
Apple said it was pleased with the results, including sales of 17 million iPads, a year-over-year rise of 84 percent. The company also sold 26 million iPhones in the quarter, up 28 percent, and four million Macs, a two percent unit increase.
"We're thrilled with record sales of 17 million iPads in the June quarter," Apple chief Tim Cook said in a release.
"We've also just updated the entire MacBook line, will release (the computer operating system) Mountain Lion tomorrow and will be launching (mobile operating system) iOS 6 this fall."
Cook added that the Cupertino, California-based company has "amazing new products" on the way.
Chief financial officer Peter Oppenheimer said the company expects revenue of $34 billion and earnings per share of about $7.65, also below expectations.
Some analysts remained upbeat despite the earnings miss, saying that Apple could likely get a lift from an expected introduction of the iPhone 5, an updated model of the hot-selling smartphone, later this year.
Reports have said Apple could also release a smaller version of its iPad tablet, which dominates the market, and some believe the company may enter the TV market as well.
Peter Misek at Jefferies & Co. said the disappointing results came from a "pre-iPhone 5 inventory adjustment" and reiterated his "buy rating" with a target price of $800.
Misek said Apple's guidance was low because "management is conservatively not including the iPhone 5 launch in our view... We believe investors have been waiting for this bad guidance to be on the tape before buying the stock ahead of the iPhone 5, iPad Mini, and iTV product launches."
Brian White at Topeka Capital Management said earlier in the day that news of a drop in iPhone sales by AT&T was "positive" for Apple, suggesting higher demand for the new smartphone.
"With the iPhone 5 launch on the horizon and other potential new products in the coming quarters, we believe Apple's stock is prepared for the next major leg up... We remain aggressive buyers of Apple at current levels," he said in a note to clients.
Apple's share of the US smartphone market was expected to inch up one percentage point to 31 percent this year, while the share for handsets powered by Google-backed Android software was expected to hit 41 percent, according to eMarketer.
Apple used the earnings report to declare a cash dividend of $2.65 per share of common stock.
The report comes with Apple battling in the courts over patents, mainly with South Korean archrival Samsung.
A trial is set to begin Monday in the case in which Apple accused Samsung of infringing on copyrights by copying certain features of the iPad and iPhone to win market share for Samsung's devices powered by the Google-created Android operating system.
Apple is seeking $2.5 billion in the case in a federal court in California.
Apple and Samsung are fighting patent battles in more than half a dozen countries.
Each company accuses the other of infringing on patented technology in smartphones or tablets.
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