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Apple stock rides iPhone, iPad to record high

Wed, 01/25/2012 - 1:37pm
Andrew Berg, Wireless Week

Shares of Apple soared to a record $457 in after-market trading as the company blew past expectations for its fiscal year 2012 first quarter. The company posted record quarterly revenue of $46.33 billion and record quarterly net profit of $13.06 billion, or $13.87 per diluted share.

The numbers, which compare to year-ago revenue of $26.74 billion and net quarterly profit of $6 billion, were driven largely by strong iPhone and iPad sales.

Apple sold 37.04 million iPhones in the quarter, representing 128 percent unit growth over the year-ago quarter. Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster had predicted 30 million in iPhone sales for the quarter.

Apple CEO Tim Cook said the company placed a "bold bet" when it figured expectations for first-quarter iPhone sales and still managed to come up short on inventory, with a backlog of orders for the device still pending.

"I think if you'd have known what we were thinking when we came up with those numbers, you'd have been surprised, as well," Cook said during a call broadcast on the company's website.

Total iPads sold reached 15.43 million during the quarter, a 111 percent unit increase over the year-ago quarter.

Peter Oppenheimer, Apple's chief financial officer, said the tablet market will continue to grow, representing a "huge opportunity" for the company.

"Last year was supposed to be the year of the tablet, and I think most people will agree it was the year of the iPad," Oppenheimer said.

Gross margin was 44.7 percent compared with 38.5 percent in the year-ago quarter, while international sales accounted for 58 percent of the quarter's revenue.

Cook said that Japan and the United States were especially strong markets for the quarter, but he added that given the late introduction of the iPhone 4S in Greater China and corresponding sales of that device, the company expects China to be a strong market going forward.

"China is an extremely important market for us," Cook said, "and we continue to look at how to grow it further."

Apple cash flow increased by $17 billion for the quarter, which should put reserves somewhere above $90 billion. Neither Cook nor Oppenheimer would speak to what the company plans on doing with its money, beyond saying that Apple is "actively discussing" uses for its cash.

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