Computer Hardware

Apple Trounces Forecasts, Raises Sales Outlook

Apple reported fourth-quarter earnings that rose 67 percent over last year, blowing past expectations, as the company turned in strong sales of its Macintosh computers and iPod music players during a period when much of the focus had been on the iPhone.


Apple also forecast fiscal first-quarter revenue of $9.2 billion, ahead of Wall Street's $8.7 billion target, and Apple shares jumped about 8 percent in extended hours after finishing regular trading up 2.3 percent at $174.36.

The company said it earned $904 million, or $1.01 a share, on sales of $6.22 billion. Last year Apple reported a profit of $542 million, or 62 cents a share, on a topline of $4.84 billion.

The computer and iPod maker was expected to report a rise in earnings of 38 percent, to 86 cents a share, on sales of over $6.07 billion, according to a consensus forecast compiled by Thomson Financial.

The company even beat its so-called whisper number, or the non-public analyst estimates, which called for a profit of 88 cents a share and $6.197 billion in revenue ($126 million more than Wall Street).

IPhone sales of 1.12 million were toward the high end of the range of estimates of three analysts, who expected between 900,000 and 1.2 million.

Apple shipped 2.2 million Macintosh computers, ahead of all three analysts' views, while iPod sales of 10.2 million were light of the analysts' range of 10.5 million to 11 million.

The results showed that the popularity of Apple's new gadgets was driving up sales of its core computer products, analysts said.

"There's no question that Mac sales are still having a halo effect from the iPod and iPhone," said Tim Bajarin, president of technology consulting company Creative Strategies.

Analysts said the company's guidance suggested Apple expects a strong holiday season.

"The guidance was extremely strong, well north of consensus. It appears that they are expecting an extremely solid holiday shopping season and, I would guess, strength from the launch of the iPhone in Europe," said analyst Shannon Cross of Cross Research.

Apple shares have more than tripled in 15 months, and some analysts have raised their price targets for Apple shares to $200.

Apple Store Coming to China

Apple plans to open 40 new stores in the coming year, including its first outlet in China, Chief Financial Officer Peter Oppenheimer said on Monday.

Apple opened 12 new stores in its fiscal fourth quarter and now runs 197 outlets, which accounted for $1.25 billion in revenue in the fiscal fourth quarter, Oppenheimer said.

Apple expects prices for memory chips used in its personal computers and iPod music players to stay low in its current quarter, Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook said.

"As you know, DRAM and NAND flash were favorable last quarter, and we believe that will continue in our Q1," Cook told analysts on a conference call. Apple has cited falling prices of components, including memory chips, as a reason for its improving gross margins.

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