Building on continued momentum of its iPod players, Apple Computer Inc nearly doubled its net income on record revenue and easily beat Wall Street expectations. But a soft forecast for the coming quarter drove Apple's shares down more than 4 percent in extended trading on Wednesday.
For the second fiscal quarter, Apple said it expects revenue of about US$4.3 billion and earnings per share of US$0.38, including an estimated non-cash share-based compensation expense of US$0.04 a share.
Analysts were expecting earnings of US$0.48 a share on revenue of US$4.6 billion.
However, Apple executives were ebullient on Wednesday in their comments about the last quarter.
"We are thrilled to report the best quarter in Apple's history," said Steve Jobs, the company's chief executive. "We are working on more wonderful products for 2006, and I can't wait to see what our customers think of them."
For the three months ended Dec. 31, the maker of Macintosh computers and iPods said on Wednesday it earned US$565 million, or US$0.65 per share, up from US$295 million, or US$0.35 a share in the year-ago quarter.
Apple revenues soared to US$5.75 billion up from US$3.49 billion a year ago.
Analysts on average expected earnings of US$0.61 per share on sales of US$5.47 billion, according to a Thomson Financial poll. The forecast included a non-cash, share-based compensation expense of US$0.03 per share.
Apple said it sold 14 million iPods during the holiday quarter -- nearly three times as many units as in the same period a year ago. It shipped 1.25 million Mac computers in the quarter, up slightly from 1.05 million units a year ago.
The company has been working to cut its inventory ahead of new Mac computer products, including the first Apple machines with Intel chips, released last week.
* The company's jubilant chief executive said the quarterly results were the best in the firm's history.
* However, the firm gave a softer forecast for the coming quarter, sending shares downward.
* For the December quarter, earnings per share reached US$0.65, topping analysts' expectations of US$0.61.
* Revenues meanwhile soared to US$5.75 billion, compared with expectations of US$5.47 billion.
Apple shares slumped 3.7 percent in late-session activity, down US$3.05, after the report was released.
Earlier, the company's stock fell 2.6 percent, or US$2.22, to close at US$82.49 on the NASDAQ Stock Market, dragged down by investor disappointment from lackluster results at Yahoo Inc and missed expectations from Intel Corp.
Still, Apple's share price more than doubled last year as it released one new product after another, bringing its fiscal 2005 revenue to an all-time high of nearly US$14 billion.