Apple posts $904 million profit

Apple sold nearly 2.2 million Macs in its fiscal fourth-quarter, topping the record for quarterly Mac sales it had set just three months ago.

Those record Macs sales, combined with ongoing iPod sales growth and the first full quarter of iPhone sales, helped deliver another strong financial performance for Apple. The company said Monday that it tallied a $904 million profit on revenue of $6.22 billion for the three-months ended Sept. 30. That translates to earnings of $1.01 per share, handily beating the consensus estimates of 86 cents a share expected by analysts polled by Thomson First Call.

A new record

Three months ago, when it announced its fiscal third-quarter earnings, Apple posted a then-record quarter for Mac sales by selling 1.7 million units. The fourth quarter’s tally of 2.164 million Macs eclipses that figure by 400,000.

During its fourth quarter, Apple introduced updates to its iMac and Mac mini lines. Not coincidentally, desktop sales jumped from the preceding quarter, up to 817,000 from 634,000.

Laptop sales rose from the third quarter as well, with the company selling 1.34 million units in the fourth quarter versus 1.13 million in the prior three months. The fiscal fourth-quarter marked the first full quarter of sales since updated its MacBook and MacBook Pro lines in May and June, respectively.

Laptop sales continue to be an important segment for Apple, with the MacBook and MacBook Pro representing 62 percent of all Macs sold during the quarter.

Mac sales grew by 34 percent over the 2006 fourth quarter, with Mac products and services making up 62 percent of the company’s quarterly revenue.

Revenue and profit

It wasn’t just a record quarter for Mac sales. According to chief financial officer Peter Oppenheimer, sales and earnings were the highest ever seen by Apple in its September quarter.

The company’s $6.22 billion in sales marked a 29-percent increase over the $4.84 billion in revenue tallied in the fourth quarter of 2006. Quarterly profit rose 67 percent, while earnings per share rose 39 percent.

International sales accounted for 40 percent of the quarter’s revenue, according to Apple.

For the year, Apple generated more than $24 billion in revenue and $3.5 billion in net income. Apple ended the fiscal year with $15.4 billion in cash and no debt, Oppenheimer said.

iPods and iPhones

As with its desktop models, Apple revamped its iPod offerings in the fiscal fourth quarter, and the changes helped spur sales growth. Apple sold 10.2 million iPods during the September quarter, a 17-percent rise from the year-ago period.

Apple “executed the transition to an all-new lineup without a hitch,” Oppenheimer said.

When the company announced its third-quarter earnings, Apple executives expected to reach the 1 million mark in iPhone sales by the end of the September quarter. The company reached that goal in early September. For the full quarter, apple sold just under 1.2 million iPhones; it has sold 1,389,000 since introducing the device on June 29.

Perhaps more important for Apple, iPhone customers report high satisfaction with the product. Oppenheimer said that 95 percent of iPhone users have told Apple they’d recommend the mobile phone to others.

The iPhone expands into Europe next month, with the device shipping in the U.K. and Germany on November 9. French sales of the iPhone begin on November 29.

On the retail store front, Apple now boasts 197 stores. Average revenue per store was $6.6 million, an increase of $1 million per store from the year-ago quarter. Total quarterly revenue grew 42 percent from the year-ago period to $1.25 billion.

In the coming fiscal year, Apple plans to open 40 more stores, including an expansion into China.

Future numbers

In giving guidance to financial analysts, Apple said it expects revenue of $9.2 billion and earnings per share of $1.42 in the fiscal first quarter of 2008, which covers the holiday shopping season. That compares to the $7.1 billion in sales and $1.14 in per-share earnings the company reported for 2007’s first quarter.

“We are looking forward to our best December quarter ever with the strongest lineup in Apple’s history,” Oppenheimer said.

Updated at 5:35 p.m. ET to include more information on Apple’s quarterly performance.
Updated at 6:05 p.m. ET to add comments from Peter Oppenheimer.

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