Apple Quarterly Profit More Than Doubles on iPhone Demand

Surged to $13.1 Billion as Consumers Snapped Up Recent 4S Model

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Apple reported quarterly profit that more than doubled as holiday purchases of the iPhone catapulted sales to a record and helped the company steer clear of the consumer-spending slump that has hurt rivals.

Fiscal first-quarter profit surged to $13.1 billion, or $13.87 a share, Apple said today in a statement. Sales rose 73%, to $46.3 billion. Analysts surveyed by Bloomberg on average estimated profit of $10.14 a share on sales of $39 billion. Per-share profit for the quarter was more than the company earned in any fiscal year before 2010.

Apple sold about 37 million iPhones; the previous record was 20.34 million. Customers snapped up the 4S, which went on sale in October, a week after the death of co-founder Steve Jobs. The results mark the first time the company's quarterly revenue topped Hewlett-Packard Co.'s, underscoring how its focus on sleek touch-screen mobile devices has reshuffled leadership in the industry.

"Those numbers are just unimaginable," said Michael Obuchowski, chief investment officer at First Empire Asset Management, which has $4 billion under management, including Apple shares. "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."

Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple forecast second-quarter revenue of about $32.5 billion and profit of $8.50 a share, compared with average analysts' predictions of $31.9 billion in sales and per-share profit of $7.96.

In its first fiscal quarter, which ended Dec. 31, Apple exceeded analysts' highest estimates for sales and profit, as well as the most optimistic forecasts for iPhone and iPad shipments. A year earlier, the company had profit of $6 billion, or $6.43 a share.

Apple sold 15.4 million iPads, topping the 13.5 million projected by analysts. IPhone sales on average were predicted to reach 30.2 million.

"Apple 's momentum is incredibly strong, and we have some amazing new products in the pipeline," Apple CEO Tim Cook said in the statement. The period was the first full quarter since Mr. Cook took over when Mr. Jobs stepped down in August, six weeks before his death.

The results are in sharp contrast to those of companies such as Microsoft Corp. and Intel Corp., which are grappling with slower personal-computer sales partly because people are buying smartphones and tablets like the iPad instead. Companies are trying to catch up by rolling out new mobile products, including Microsoft's Windows 8 operating system, designed to integrate more smoothly with smartphones and tablets.

Rival smartphone makers have also struggled to keep pace with Apple . HTC Corp. and Motorola, two of the biggest companies whose devices run Google's Android operating system, disappointed investors with their most recent results. Research In Motion, which has lost 90% of its market value since 2008, replaced its co-CEOs this week.

Apple collects more than half of the profit in the mobile-phone market, according to Horace Dediu, a former Nokia analyst who now operates the Asymco industry-research website.

"Everybody else is losing market share if they compete against Apple ," said Brian Marshall, an analyst at ISI Group in San Francisco. "They are dancing to their own tune."

Holiday demand for the iPhone helped Apple gain market share on manufacturers that include Samsung Electronics Co.and HTC. In December, about 45% of U.S. shoppers who bought a smartphone in the previous three months said they purchased an iPhone, up from 25% in a study done two months earlier, according to Nielsen Co. Android phones were selected by 47% of buyers, down from 62%.

Competitors also haven't been able to match the success of the iPad, with Apple controlling 62% of the tablet market in the third quarter, according to researcher IDC.

The popularity of the iPad and iPhone has also buoyed Apple 's line of Mac computers. The company sold 5.2 million Macs in the first quarter, vs. 4.9 million in the previous quarter.

Hewlett-Packard had revenue of $32.1 billion in its most recent quarter, which ended in October. The Palo Alto, Calif.-based computer maker will report fiscal first-quarter results next month.

-- Bloomberg News--
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