Apple reported yet another record quarter, with revenue of $15.68 billion and a quarterly profit of $3.38 billion.
During its first fiscal quarter, which closed Dec. 26, Apple sold 3.36 million Macintosh computers and 8.7 million iPhones, or 33 percent more Macs and 100 percent more iPhones than a year earlier, the company said Jan 25.
During its previous quarter, Apple sold 3.05 million Macs and 7.4 million iPhones, and Apple Chief Financial Officer Peter Oppenheimer-pointing to reduced "Snow Leopard" sales, the rising costs of air freight and lowered margins on new products-had estimated that Apple would earn $11.3 billion during the first financial quarter of 2010.
Apple, however, has also earned a reputation for estimating low and announcing high, and Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster told Business Insider that the figures were likely to be closer to 9.3 million iPhone sales and revenue of $12.25 billion.
"We're thrilled to have cleared our best quarter ever," Oppenheimer said during the live conference call. "We posted Apple's best quarterly revenue and earnings and set new records on sales of Macs and iPhones. We're shipping the best products in our history, and customers love them."
Apple smashed several of its own records during the quarter, including surpassing its previous quarterly revenue record by almost $3.5 billion. Oppenheimer said Apple's operating margins were also its highest ever, and that iTunes additionally set a new record.
The wide difference between expectation and the announced figures was partly explained by Apple's announcement that it had switched over to the Financial Accounting Standards Board's amended accounting standards. Regardless, the results "certainly reaffirm the strength of the brand and the appeal of the portfolio," Gartner analyst Carolina Milanesi told eWEEK.
Do the results show that Apple knows what people want, which could bode well for the success of a tablet?
"I think we still need to see what the tablet will come with, both from a hardware but more importantly from a content perspective-and of course what price point the device will have," Milanesi said. "However, looking at Apple DNA, we know that the device will not just be another device, another form factor, but that Apple will build an all-around proposition beyond the hardware. This is something we have missed so far in the tablets that have been brought to market."
While acknowledging that Apple is holding an event on Jan. 27-at which it is widely expected by the public to introduce a new slate or tablet PC-neither Oppenheimer nor his colleagues on the call would utter the word "slate" or discuss whether their projections for the following quarter included sales of a product Apple may or may not introduce.
In a news release on the earnings, however, Apple CEO Steve Jobs said, "The new products we are planning to release this year are very strong, starting this week with a major new product that we're really excited about."
For the second fiscal quarter of 2010, Oppenheimer said he expects revenue in the range of about $11 billion to $11.4 billion, and diluted earnings per share in the range of $2.06 to $2.18.
Gartner announced on Jan. 14 that in the calendar fourth quarter of 2009 Apple slipped one position to fifth place in the worldwide PC market, which puts it behind Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Acer and Toshiba.