Strong iPhone sales buoy Apple's third quarter, shares climb

Wed Jul 24, 2013 3:45am EDT
 
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By Poornima Gupta

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Sales of Apple Inc's iPhone trumped Wall Street estimates after U.S. shipments soared 51 percent in the third quarter, lifting its stock 5 percent even as profit fell.

The world's largest technology company said Tuesday that profit fell 22 percent as gross margins slid below 37 percent from more than 42 percent in the year-ago quarter.

The iPhone's solid showing eased concerns that growing competition is hurting demand for Apple's top-selling product as the global smartphone market matures. Rival Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, which overtook Apple to become the world's largest smartphone maker in 2012, fueled those fears when it issued a disappointing earnings forecast earlier this month.

Apple's stock, which has fallen 20 percent since January, rose 5 percent to $437.94 in after-hours trade. It closed at $418.99 on Nasdaq.

"The iPhone number should provide some comfort to investors who were worried about smartphone demand. That's one of the reasons the stock is up. Expectations were not strong for this quarter," said Shannon Cross of Cross Research.

The company sold 31.2 million iPhones last quarter - far more than the estimated 26 million - and 14.6 million iPads.

Chief Financial Officer Peter Oppenheimer said in an interview that iPhone sales rose 51 percent in the United States from a year earlier, and 66 percent in Japan.

But revenue from greater China - an increasingly crucial market for the Silicon Valley giant as it strives for growth - dived 43 percent from the second quarter and 14 percent from the year-ago period.   Continued...

 
Apple Inc. CEO Tim Cook addresses the crowd during the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) 2013 in San Francisco, California in this June 10, 2013 file photo. REUTERS/Stephen Lam/Files