Apple's Q4 racks up $37.5B in sales, 33.8M iPhones, 14.1M iPads

Tech giant posts better-than-expected earnings for its last quarter of the year, fueled once again by the iPhone.

Apple Cupertino HQ
James Martin/CNET

Apple's iPhone once again led the company to earnings that were higher than what Wall Street expected.

On Monday, Apple reported fourth-quarter earnings of $8.26 per share on sales of $37.5 billion. Analysts, on average, forecast the company to post earnings of $7.92 per share on sales of $36.8 billion.

Apple said it sold 33.8 million iPhones, 14.1 million iPads, 4.6 million Macs, and 3.5 million iPods during the quarter. Wall Street was expecting sales of around 32 million iPhones, 15 million iPads, 4.26 million Macs, and 4.2 million iPods.

"We're excited to go into the holidays with our new iPhone 5C and iPhone 5S, iOS 7, the new iPad Mini with Retina Display, and the incredibly thin and light iPad Air, new MacBook Pros, the radical new Mac Pro, OS X Mavericks, and the next-generation iWork and iLife apps for OS X and iOS," Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a statement.

Several of those products, including the new iPads and Mac Pro, were introduced at an event last week, and are not included in this report.

For its next quarter, which runs through December, Apple expects to bring in $55 billion to $58 billion in sales, with a margin between 36.5 percent and 37.5 percent. That's on the lower side of the $55.7 billion in sales Wall Street expected ahead of the report.

In a call with Wall Street analysts, Apple explained that part of the hit on margins was because of a $900 million deferral of revenue due to changes in how it's accounting for free iOS and Mac software. That has trimmed margins by $5 on each iOS device it sells, and by around $20 for each Mac, Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer said.

Early in after-hours trading, Apple's stock initially shot down around $12, or roughly 2 percent, selling around $529 per share. Following its earnings call, it rallied up $3.27 to $533 a share.

Along with its earnings, the company announced plans to offer a $3.05 per share dividend to its shareholders on November 14.

Other tidbits from the earnings call:

  • Apple noted that all future versions of OS X would be free, something that wasn't entirely disclosed when announcing the immediate availability and price change for its latest -- OS X Mavericks -- last week.

  • The Retina Display version of the iPad Mini could be hard to come by, Cook said . "It's unclear whether we'll have enough for the quarter or not," he told analysts. "You never really know the demand until after you start shipping." The device is slated to come out "later" next month, though Cook did not elaborate on a more specific date.

  • The company has 94 percent of the market for education tablets with its iPad. Where that number came from was not exactly clear.

  • Cook and Co. don't believe the iPhone 5C is a budget phone . "That was never our intent, honestly.Our entry iPhone is the iPhone 4S," Cook told analysts who were curious about how well the 5C was doing in "cost sensitive" countries.

  • The company has made 15 "strategic acquisitions," according to Cook, who mentioned the figure in the preamble of the earnings call. He did not go into detail about what those companies were. However, some recent buys include transit company Embark , Passif Semiconductor, location-based-data company Locationary , as well as local-navigation company Hopstop .

  • New product categories are still coming, but not this year . Cook told analysts that "exciting new products" are still on the way, but he didn't say they'd arrive in 2013 or in the first half of next year.

Updated at 2:50 p.m. PT with additional details from the company's earnings call.

 

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