Apple soars during economic gloom

During its second fiscal quarter, the iPhone maker dramatically exceeded expectations for revenue and earnings per share amid a troubled economy.

Updated at 1:55 p.m. PT with additional details, and at 3:20 p.m. with further details from the conference call.

Apple blew away expectations for its second fiscal quarter, reporting revenue and net income far beyond what the Wall Street community was expecting amid a poor economy.

For the period ended March 28, Apple recorded $8.16 billion in revenue, up from $7.5 billion in revenue during the same period last year. Net profit was $1.21 billion, or earnings per share of $1.33. Analysts had been expecting revenue of $7.96 billion and earnings per share of $1.09.

Apple sold 2.22 million Macs, 11 million iPods, and 3.79 million iPhones during the quarter, meeting or exceeding expectations from financial analysts . CFO Peter Oppenheimer called it "the best nonholiday quarter revenue and earnings in our history," in a statement announcing the results.

As usual, Oppenheimer provided third-quarter guidance below what analysts were seeking. The consensus Wall Street estimate for Apple's June quarter was $8.28 billion in revenue and earnings per share of $1.12, while Oppenheimer said Apple expects to record between $7.7 billion and $7.9 billion in revenue and earnings per share between 95 cents and a dollar during the current quarter.

Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer said the company has just had its "best nonholiday quarter revenue and earnings in our history." Click the image for a full chart, with sales figures for product categories and year-over-year percentages.
Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer said the company has just had its "best nonholiday quarter revenue and earnings in our history." Click the image for a full chart, with sales figures for product categories and year-over-year percentages. Apple

During Apple's earnings conference call, Oppenheimer attributed that lower guidance to, among other things, the fact that Apple has stopped recognizing revenue from iPhone sales after the March 17th iPhone OS 3.0 event, and does not plan to recognize iPhone revenue again until the company ships that software sometime this summer. Apple accounts for iPhone sales on a subscription basis, meaning the company defers the initial revenue from the sale of an iPhone over a 24-month period in order to satisfy an obscure accounting rule.

Mac shipments fell 3 percent compared to last year. It's the first time Mac shipments have fallen year over year, but some had expected worse . Desktop shipments fell 4 percent, and portable shipments fell 2 percent, but revenue was way off: 22 percent in desktops, and 12 percent in portables. Still, as with last quarter, international Mac sales were stronger than U.S. Mac sales.

Apple COO Tim Cook said during the company's conference call that shipments to educational customers are weak right now, given the budget crunch that many U.S. states are facing. He also said that shipments of Apple's most expensive Macs--the Mac Pro and MacBook Pro--were off during the quarter, but that the less-expensive consumer-oriented Macs held up reasonably well.

The iPod lineup appeared to get a clear boost from the launch of the new iPod Shuffle, with Apple selling about 1 million more iPods than analysts had expected. iPod shipments were up 3 percent compared to last year, as revenue fell 16 percent, suggesting that sales of the $79 iPod Shuffle made up a greater amount of Apple's iPod mix than usual.

iPod Touch sales doubled compared to last year, Cook said, and Apple has now sold 37 million iPhones and iPod Touches combined. In March, Apple said it had sold 30 million of those two devices since their introduction.

And as had been foreshadowed earlier on Tuesday, Apple sold 3.79 million iPhones, which Piper Jaffray's Gene Munster predicted based on AT&T's activation numbers for the quarter . iPhone shipments were up sharply compared to last year, but they fell coming off the holiday quarter.

When asked to comment on whether there was any update concerning CEO Steve Jobs' return to the company, Oppenheimer reiterated the company's usual statement: "We look forward to Steve returning to Apple at the end of June."

About the author

    Tom Krazit writes about the ever-expanding world of Google, as the most prominent company on the Internet defends its search juggernaut while expanding into nearly anything it thinks possible. He has previously written about Apple, the traditional PC industry, and chip companies. E-mail Tom.


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