Apple returns to form, blows Street targets away

Tue Jan 24, 2012 6:19pm EST
 
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By Poornima Gupta

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Apple Inc's quarterly results blew past Wall Street's expectations after U.S. consumers snapped up near-unprecedented numbers of iPhones and iPads, sending its shares up 8 percent into record territory.

The world's most valuable technology corporation returned to form after a rare miss in the previous quarter, assuaging investors' worries that its sheer size meant it was headed into a period of slower growth.

It sold 37.04 million iPhones - its flagship product - and 15.43 million iPad tablets, doubling from a year earlier and easily outpacing already heightened expectations for a strong holiday season. That helped swell its cash hoard to almost $100 billion - more than enough to plug December's U.S. budget deficit.

"Going into 2012, I expect strength of iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad should carry on into the year. Apple still has some tailwind, including opening up new retail stores and expanding its distribution channels," said Hendi Susanto at Gabelli & Co.

"I would say Apple still has many unpenetrated international markets ... Apple is still far from its saturation."

The company founded by late Silicon Valley titan Steve Jobs - who died in October after a years-long battle with cancer - smashed estimates on all its results including gross margin, which came in at 44.7 percent during the quarter.

Revenue leapt 73 percent to $46.33 billion, handily beating the average Wall Street analyst estimate of $38.91 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Apple's sales in the United States were particularly strong, with revenue rising 90 percent in the Americas region. Sales in Europe were up 55 percent even though the region is in the grip of a debt crisis that has pummeled consumer confidence.   Continued...