Apple posts record $46B revenue in Q1

Strong sales of iPhones and iPads give Cupertino record first-quarter revenue of US$46.3 billion, with profits soaring past Wall Street estimates.

Apple has surpassed Wall Street estimates with record US$46.3 billion revenue and US$13.1 billion profit in its first quarter, thanks to high sales of the iPhone and iPad.

Cupertino's earnings for the quarter, ended Dec. 31, 2011, were its "highest ever", and double that of the same period the previous year where it saw revenue of US$26.7 billion and net quarterly profit of US$6 billion, according to a company statement released Tuesday. Apple's share price for the first quarter of 2012 was US$13.87, compared to US$6.43 in the same quarter last year.

Sales of the iPhone and iPad also more than doubled. The company said it sold 37 million iPhones and 15.4 million iPads in the first quarter, representing 128 percent and 111 percent unit growth from a year ago. Mac sales grew 26 percent to reach 5.2 million, while  iPod sales dropped 21 percent to 15.4 million in the same quarter.

"We're thrilled with our outstanding results and record-breaking sales of iPhones, iPads and Macs," Apple CEO Tim Cook said in the statement. "Apple's momentum is incredibly strong, and we have some amazing new products in the pipeline."

Looking ahead to its second fiscal quarter of 2012, Apple expects to clock US$32.5 billion in revenue and diluted earnings per share of US$8.50, said its CFO Peter Oppenheimer.

Apple's iPhone 4S--its latest iteration which was first launched in October--was a major contributor of the company's record revenue. Beau Skonieczny, research analyst for computing practice at Technology Business Research (TBR), said in a statement that Apple's aggressive global rollout of the iPhone 4S was also a key contributor to sales growth, and a testament to Apple's continued efforts for rapid international expansion.

According to a Bloomberg report Tuesday, the company's first-quarter performance surpassed Wall Street expectations of US$39 billion in revenue and beat its own estimates of US$37 billion. Apple's previous quarterly earnings missed analyst expectations and raised concerns that the tech giant was approaching a growth slump.

"Those numbers are just unimaginable," Michael Obuchowski, chief investment officer at First Empire Asset Management, told Bloomberg. "It's still an extremely well-managed company and they are showing that the product pipeline is sufficient even now to generate growth rates that are unrivaled."

Several analysts, quoted in a separate Reuters report, however, warned of a "rougher ride" for Apple this year against rival Google's Android mobile operating system and the rise of iPad alternatives including those from Amazon's Kindle range.

Nonetheless, the latest versions of the iPhone handset and the iPad 3 tablet--rumored to arrive this March--would likely quell fears, the report pointed out.

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