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Apple meets sales forecasts, but iPad sales slump

NEW YORK Apple (AAPL) missed Wall Street earnings expectations for the second straight quarter, as iPad sales fell short of analyst forecasts.

The slowdown in the growth of iPad sales was not unexpected, as the rumor mill correctly predicted that Apple would launch a smaller, cheaper iPad. It announced that device, the iPad Mini, on Tuesday.

Net income in the fiscal fourth quarter was $8.2 billion, or $8.67 per share. That was up 24 percent from $6.6 billion, or $7.05 per share, a year ago. Analysts polled by FactSet were expecting earnings of $8.84 per share.

Revenue was $36 billion, up 27 percent from a year ago. Analysts were expecting $35.8 billion.

Apple sold 26.9 million iPhones in the quarter, at the high end of expectations, and 14 million iPads.

The results represent a rebound for Apple from the April to June period, when the company missed revenue and profit targets.

Apple is counting on a boost from the iPad Mini, whose screen is roughly two-thirds the size of a standard iPad and weighs less than a pound. Prices start at $329, higher than many analysts had expected.

In launching a lower-priced version its tablet in a play for more budget-conscious consumers, Apple is trying to take market share from Amazon (AMZN), Google (GOOG), Microsoft (MSFT), Barnes & Noble (BKS) and other technology companies challenging the company with smaller, cheaper tablets.

Apple introduced its latest smartphone, the iPhone 5, in September. Sales of the device have been brisk, although slightly shy of analyst forecasts. The company has been lowering the price of its iPhone and iPad amid rising competition in the phone and tablet market.

The impact of the iPad Mini on Apple's bottom line remains to be seen. The device's lower price could result in a lower profit margin for the company than it gets from sales of the iPhone, whose popularity has driven Apple's strong financial performance in recent years.

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