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Fri, Oct 17, 2003 - Page 12 News List

Apple's quarterly performance beats expectations on surging `iPod' sales

NY TIMES NEWS SERVICE , SAN FRANCISCO

Apple Computer reported fourth quarter results Wednesday that exceeded financial analysts' estimates. Those results were driven by a surge in sales of its popular iPod music player and its newest generation of desktop computers. The company also said that its 63 retail stores were profitable for the quarter -- a first since Apple launched the chain in 2001.

During the quarter, the computer maker, based in Cupertino, California, refashioned its product lines for professional users, including creating a new line of desktop computers based on the IBM G5 microprocessor.

It reported shipping 336,000 iPods during the quarter, up 140 percent compared with the same quarter last year, and 787,000 Macintosh personal computers, an increase of 7 percent.

Apple reported a net profit of US$44 million, or US$0.08 per share, less investment and other one-time gains. For the same quarter last year, the company had a loss of US$45 million, or US$0.13 per share.

Financial analysts had expected a net profit of US$0.07 per share, according to the Thomson First Call financial service.

The company has said it is planning a major revision of its Mac OS X operating system, dubbed Panther, in nine days.

On Thursday, the company is expected to announce the opening of its iTunes music service for computer users with the Windows operating system.

Several analysts said they expected Apple to make an announcement, possibly of an alliance with one of the major Internet portals that does not yet have a major music service partner.

Apple said it expects revenues to rise to about US$1.9 billion for its first quarter, and a "slight sequential increase" in net earnings per share from the just-completed quarter.

Revenues for the fourth quarter were US$1.715 billion, up 19 percent over the previous year. For the year, the company reported net income of US$69 million on revenues of US$6.21 billion compared with net income of US$65 million on revenues of US$5.74 billion last year.

The biggest disappointment for the quarter was in the company's sales to primary and secondary schools, which declined 15 percent.

Fred Anderson, the company's chief financial officer, said he believed the decline was linked to tight budgets in school districts throughout the country.

The company also said it planned to open its first international retail store in Tokyo before the end of the year.

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