The company's typically conservative forecast was also below estimates, with CEO Tim Cook pointing to very strong demand for the iPhone 5 that has overwhelmed production capacity. A similar dynamic is expected for the iPad mini, which was unveiled earlier this week and launches next Friday. See: Apple faces tight supply in busy quarter
"On balance, we believe that Apple's guidance is conservative and that the Apple is not currently facing structural or competitive headwinds," wrote Toni Sacconaghi of Bernstein Research on Friday. See commentary: Apple's new products have margin cost
Mark Moskowitz of J.P. Morgan wrote that "our view has been that Sep-Q results and the Dec-Q guide do not matter. It is all about what Apple reports for Dec-Q in late January 2013."
Apple also guided to a 36% gross margin for the December period, below the 40% result in the December period. Having revamped most of its product line over the past six weeks with the iPhone, iPad, iPod and iMac lines given significant new designs the company said it is on the "height of the cost curve" on manufacturing these new products.
"As Apple scales its new products [iPhone 5, 4thgen iPad, iPad mini, and Macs] down the cost curve, we think that consolidated gross margin can start to move back to 40% or better after [the December period]," Moskowitz wrote.
Wall Street sentiment on Apple remains overwhelmingly bullish, with 90% of covering brokers still rating the shares as a buy.
However, several also appear to be hedging their bets somewhat on the shares. At least a dozen brokers trimmed their price targets on Apple's stock Friday morning, with the average cut about 5%, according to data from Thomson Reuters.See Trading Deck commentary: FearPad trumps iPad
Amit Daryanani of RBC Capital wrote that "historically, Apple has given a conservative guide, and we believe investor fears regarding the EPS line are being offset by the higher than expected sales forecast for December." He expects iPhone 5 and the iPad mini to have a strong period in December.
Sacconaghi believes Apple may be "absorbing incremental costs" related to lower manufacturing yields of the iPhone 5's in-cell display. But he added that Apple has beat its guidance by an average of 290 basis points over the last 12 quarters.
"We also believe that this quarter is unique with over 80% of revenues expected to come from new products (including the low margin Mini), an iPhone that has both form factor and internal upgrades, and unusually high display costs because of poor in-cell display yields," he wrote.