With sales of its iPod music players continuing to grow at a breakneck pace, Apple Computer has reported the highest revenue and earnings results in the company's history.
Apple shipped more than 14 million iPods during its most recent quarter, the first of fiscal 2006, the company said.
Revenue for the quarter, which ended December 31, was $US5.75 billion, up significantly from the year-ago total of $US3.49 billion. Earnings for this most recent quarter totalled $US565 million, or $US0.65 per share.
Wall Street analysts had been expecting earnings of $US0.61 per share, on average, according to a survey of 11 analysts by Thomson First Call. Analysts has set quarterly revenue expectations at $US5.54 billion, according to Thomson.
Apple CEO, Steve Jobs, had preannounced some of the results at last week's Macworld Conference and Expo in San Francisco, when he revealed the iPod sales number and told attendees that revenue would be $US5.7 billion for the quarter.
Sales of the iPod were up 207 per cent from the year-ago quarter and Apple shipped 1.25 million Macintosh computers during the most recent period, up 20 per cent from the previous year.
Apple chief financial officer, Peter Oppenheimer, gave cautious financial guidance for the quarter ahead and warned that iPod sales were likely to slow. "The iPod was one of the top holiday gifts in this season," he said. "It's natural to think that there would be a drop-off in demand in the March quarter from this exceptional holiday result."
Apple is also facing a possible slowdown in Mac sales as the company moves to new systems based on Intel's microprocessor. The first of these systems, two configurations of both the MacBook Pro notebook and the iMac personal computer, were introduced last week.
Though the first three months of the year are typically a slow period for Apple, the company surprised analysts with its predictions for this period, which is the company's second quarter in the fiscal 2006 year. Apple expects revenue of about $US4.3 billion and earnings of about $US0.38 per share for the quarter, numbers that were more conservative than analysts had been expecting, Thomson said.
The company plans to expand the number of its Apple Retail Stores over the next year by adding about 40 locations, Oppenheimer said.
"We expect most of them to be [opened] domestically, but we'll continue to open stores in Canada, the UK and Japan as well," he said.
Apple's online music store operated above break-even during the first quarter, he said