Thu, Jan 26, 2012 - Page 5 News List

Strong iPhone sales drive record quarter for Apple

HALO EFFECT:In the gadget-maker’s first full quarter without its visionary co-founder, iPhone and iPad sales skyrocketed, with China expected to drive further growth

AFP, SAN FRANCISCO

Apple Inc blew past forecasts and reported record quarterly net profit and revenue on Tuesday in the first quarter since the death of founder Steve Jobs, driven by strong sales of the new iPhone.

Apple said its net profit more than doubled in the first quarter of fiscal 2012 to a record US$13.06 billion, while revenue soared to an all-time high of US$46.33 billion from US$26.74 billion a year ago.

Earnings per share of US$13.87 easily surpassed the US$10.08 per share expected by Wall Street analysts.

Apple said it sold 37.04 million iPhones in the quarter which ended on Dec. 31, up 128 percent from a year ago, and 15.43 million iPads, a 111 percent increase.

The California-based gadget-maker sold 5.2 million Macintosh computers in the quarter, up 26 percent, and 15.4 million iPods, a 21 percent decline from a year ago.

“We’re thrilled with our outstanding results and record-breaking sales of iPhones, iPads and Macs,” Apple chief executive Tim Cook said in a statement. “Apple’s momentum is incredibly strong, and we have some amazing new products in the pipeline.”

Apple’s previous quarterly highs for iPhone, iPad and Macintosh sales were 20.34 million, 11.12 million and 4.89 million respectively.

Investors applauded the blockbuster quarter, sending Apple shares up 7.5 percent to US$452.00 in after-hours trading.

It was the company’s first full quarter without its visionary co-founder and chief executive Steve Jobs, who died of cancer a day after the Oct. 4 launch of the iPhone 4S.

The hot-selling iPhone 4S was the “fastest iPhone rollout” in the company’s history, Cook said in a conference call with financial analysts.

“We made a very bold bet on demand,” but the company was “still short” in some markets due to pent-up demand, he said.

“As it turned out we didn’t bet high enough,” said Cook, who took over as CEO from Jobs in August.

Growth in iPhone sales in the US and Japan was “great,” he said. “We could not be happier.”

The fiscal 2012 first-quarter included a 14th week, the important holiday shopping week between Christmas and New Year’s.

Apple said it ended the quarter with a cash pile of US$97.6 billion, compared with US$81.6 billion for the September quarter.

“We are actively discussing the best use of our cash balance,” Apple chief financial officer Peter Oppenheimer said in the conference call. “We don’t have anything to announce specifically today.”

Cook indicated the priority for iPhone expansion was China.

“We have a ton more energy in the China market today,” he said.

The iPhone was sort of a “catalyst” in spurring sales of other Apple products, much like the iPod’s “halo” effect on the Macintosh in 2003-2004, he said.

The iPad, which runs on Apple’s operating software, is benefiting from competition among other tablets and there is even some “cannibalization” of Windows personal computers by the Apple tablet computer, Cook said.

“We’re just going to innovate like crazy in this area,” he said.

More than 55 million iPads have been sold since its launch in April 2010.

Apple’s forecasts for the current quarter leaped over Wall Street expectations: US$32.5 billion in revenue and earnings of US$8.50 per share. The market had penciled in US$32 billion and US$8.03, respectively.

Apple’s iCloud, launched a few months ago, now has more than 85 million subscribers.

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