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The Web Team

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Apple profit surges on strong Mac, iPhone sales
« on: October 23, 2007, 07:46:51 AM »
Apple Inc. shares rallied Tuesday after the consumer tech giant said sales of more than 2 million Macintosh PCs, along with strong performances from its iPod and iPhone products, powered it to a 67% increase in fourth-quarter earnings.

AAPL 174.36, +3.94, +2.3%) rose 6.6% in Frankfurt trades and sparked optimism in the broader market after disappointing results from the industrial sector last week. See Indications.

After the bell on Monday, the company said it earned $904 million, or $1.01 a share, on revenue of $6.22 billion. During the same period a year ago, Apple earned $546 million, or 62 cents a share, on $4.84 billion in sales.

The results easily topped the estimates of analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial, who predicted that the company would earn 86 cents a share on revenue of $6.07 billion.

 The earnings performance comes on top of a big run-up of nearly 50% in Apple shares in the past two months.
Shaw Wu, of American Technology Research, said the quarter was "stronger than expected" due to surprise gains from the Mac and the iPhone. Wu holds a buy rating and $185 a share price target on Apple's stock.

Among the quarter's highlights were sales of Macintosh PCs, which reached 2.16 million units and topped 2 million in sales in a quarter for the first time. Total Mac sales increased by 34% from a year ago.

Apple Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook said the Mac's performance was led by strong back-to-school and higher education sales, a revamped Mac design that was released in August and new customers who are buying Macs at the company's retail stores.

New customers flocking to stores

"Over 50% of the Macs that we've sold in our retail stores were to customers who never owned a Mac before," Cook said, on a conference call. "So we've been very successful at expanding our customer base."

Apple's gross margins rose to 33.6% from 29.2% a year ago, led by falling prices on components such as PC and iPod memory chips.

On a conference call to discuss the results, Cook said memory prices "were favorable last quarter, and we believe that will continue" in the company's current quarter.

Romeo Dator, who manages U.S. Global Investors' $26 million All-American Equity Fund (GBTFX:
US Glbl:All Am Eqty


GBTFX 31.54, +0.12, +0.4%) , and owns Apple's stock in the fund, said the company's overall results "are not surprising since Apple [has a] recent history of under promising and over delivering."

iPhone sales come in strong

Apple also said it sold 1.12 million iPhones during what was the first full quarter that the combination iPod and cell phone had been on sale. Apple previously said it sold more than 1 million iPhones during its fourth quarter, and has now sold almost 1.4 million iPhones since the device was released on June 29.

IPod sales also continued to be strong, rising 17% from a year ago to 10.2 million units. In early September, Apple refreshed its iPods and added a new digital-media player -- the touch-screen iPod touch -- to its lineup.

Analysts seemed unfazed by the iPod figures, even though many had figured Apple would sell 11 million iPods during the quarter. Wu, of American Technology Research, said this is because "typically the September quarter is a back-to-school quarter driven by Macs, while the December quarter is a consumer quarter driven by iPods."

During last year's December quarter, Apple sold more than 21 million iPods, and the company has sold more than 120 million of the digital media players to date.

For its fiscal first quarter, Apple said it expects to earn $1.42 a share on $9.2 billion in sales. Analysts had forecast Apple to earn $1.39 a share on revenue of $8.58 billion for what is typically the company's busiest business period.
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