Apple beats gloom with record-breaking quarter

Apple had the luxury of being able to announce record-breaking quarterly results late yesterday, at the same time many other vendors are licking their fiscal wounds.

The iPhone maker posted record revenue of $10.2 billion (7.3 billion), up six per cent and record net quarterly profit growth of one per cent or $1.6 billion (1.2 billion) compared to the same period last year.

The figures beat average analyst revenue expectations as polled by Thomson Reuters of $9.7 billion (6.9 billion). And the company's share price rose 10 per cent in after-hours trading within minutes of the results' announcement.

Apple chief executive Steve Jobs said: "Even in these economically challenging times, we are incredibly pleased to report our best quarterly revenue and earnings in Apple history."

The company said it had maintained the 35 per cent gross margin it posted in the same quarter of last year. And strong hardware sales were a major contributor to growth, while international sales accounted for 46 per cent of the quarter's revenue.

It sold 2.5 million Macintosh computers during the quarter, representing nine per cent year-on-year quarterly unit growth. A record 22.7 million iPods sold during the quarter added three per cent growth. Quarterly iPhone sales amounted to nearly 4.4 million or a whopping 88 per cent growth over the same quarter a year ago.

And it forecast revenue in the range of about $7.6 billion to $8 billion (5.4 billion to 5.7 billion) for the second fiscal quarter of 2009.

The results will come as a welcome bright spot for the tech giant, which has had to contend with increasing speculation around the health of its founder and chief.

Jobs announced a period of medical leave only last week, leaving Apple chief operating officer Timothy Cook to handle day-to-day operations at the firm.

Charles Smulders, managing vice president of client computing for analyst firm Gartner, told IT PRO that, as expected, Apple's iPhone was a key driver of growth during the quarter.

"Computer sales overall were good relative to the market and its new notebook line was clearly well received, but sales of desktops were disappointing," he said.

Smulders added that, despite a positive quarter overall, slowing iPod sales and weak Apple Store year-on-year revenue growth of just two per cent would raise concerns.

Miya Knights

A 25-year veteran enterprise technology expert, Miya Knights applies her deep understanding of technology gained through her journalism career to both her role as a consultant and as director at Retail Technology Magazine, which she helped shape over the past 17 years. Miya was educated at Oxford University, earning a master’s degree in English.

Her role as a journalist has seen her write for many of the leading technology publishers in the UK such as ITPro, TechWeekEurope, CIO UK, Computer Weekly, and also a number of national newspapers including The Times, Independent, and Financial Times.