Apple reported on Jan. 17 a 78 percent surge in quarterly profit, boosted by strong holiday sales of iPod digital music players and brisk sales of its MacBook laptops.
Apple said net income for its first fiscal quarter ended December 30 rose to $1.004 billion, or $1.14 per share, from $565 million, or 65 cents per share, in the year-ago quarter. Revenue rose to $7.12 billion from $5.75 billion.
Analysts had expected Apple to post net income of 77 cents per share, on average, on revenue of $6.43 billion, according to Reuters Estimates. The results compared with Apple 's own earlier forecast of earnings per share of 70 cents to 73 cents and revenue of $6.0 billion to $6.2 billion.
Apple is coming off its annual Macworld conference, where it generated more buzz than usual this year when Chief Executive Steve Jobs unveiled a much-anticipated multimedia device called the iPhone, which goes on sale for $500 to $600 in June, PC Magazine reports.
Shares of Apple lost $2.15 to close Wednesday at $94.95 on the Nasdaq Stock Market as technology stocks in general tumbled. In extended trading following its report, Apple shares initially jumped by about 4.5 percent, then declined by 1 percent to $94.
Looking ahead to its fiscal second quarter, Apple forecast revenue of $4.8 billion to $4.9 billion and earnings per share of 54 cents to 56 cents. Analysts were projecting revenues of $5.22 billion and earnings per share of 60 cents, according to Thomson.
Apple officials said the March quarter outlook partly stems from expectations of slightly lower gross margins and slower software sales ahead of the company's spring release of its upgrade to the Mac OS X operating system, dubbed Leopard.
Analysts took the company's guidance with a grain of salt.
"Last time they beat their own guidance by 16 percent," Munster said. "And it's undeniable now that they're running away with the digital music market."
Despite new competition from Microsoft Corp.'s Zune player, Apple said its line of iPods managed to hold onto a 72 percent share of the U.S. market in December.
Legal troubles for Apple are mounting, but Wall Street so far has largely shrugged off the impact.
Apple is one of the most prominent among dozens of companies facing federal scrutiny over its past accounting of stock options. It also has been sued by Cisco Systems Inc. over alleged trademark infringement for using the name iPhone for the new cell phone-iPod device it unveiled last week.
Apple's chief operating officer, Tim Cook, called the Cisco lawsuit "silly" during a conference call with analysts Wednesday and said Cisco's trademark registration was "tenuous at best."
"If Cisco wants to challenge us," Cook said, "we're confident we'll prevail."
Investors are optimistic about Apple's future as it reinvents itself as a maker of consumer electronics. The company even changed its name last week _ from Apple Computer Inc. to just Apple Inc. to better reflect its broadening portfolio beyond computer products, the AP reports.
Prepared by Alexander Timoshik
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