Apple Blows the Doors Off in Spectacular Quarter

Consumer electronics giant Apple on Tuesday proved that it's still the master of its domain, posting a net profit of $13 billion on record revenue of $46.3 billion for the most recent quarter, with an astonishing gross margin of almost 45 percent. And though analysts tend to understate their estimates for Apple's earnings, these numbers speak for themselves: Apple simply had an unprecedented, blockbuster quarter.

"We're thrilled with our outstanding results and record-breaking sales of iPhones, iPads, and Macs," Apple CEO Tim Cook said in what might be the most understated prepared statement in modern corporate history. "Apple's momentum is incredibly strong, and we have some amazing new products in the pipeline."

I can't speak to Apple's pipeline, but there's no doubt that the company's momentum is indeed incredibly strong.

Apple sold an astonishing 37 million iPhones in the quarter, which is all the more impressive when you consider that the iPhone 4S, which launched in the quarter, is visually identical to its predecessor and uses a design that is now over 18 months old. That unit-sales number represents 128 percent unit growth over the same quarter a year ago, and analysts had expected Apple to sell 30 million iPhones.

The iPad also surpassed Apple's expectations, supposedly, with the company selling 15 million units during the quarter, over twice as many as it sold in the same quarter a year ago. Cook said in a conference call that 2011 wasn't the year of the tablet but was rather "the year of the iPad ... for the second year in a row." You'll get no argument here. In the tablet market, there's iPad and then there's everything else.

Compared with the iPhone and iPad, Apple's other major products were perhaps less stellar performers, though none fared poorly. Apple sold more than 5 million Macs during the quarter, up 26 percent year over year and also a record. And the company sold more than 15 million iPods, a 21 percent unit decline but still an amazing figure. Apple's iTunes Store generated over $1.7 billion in revenues in the quarter, though Apple declined to reveal whether it had turned a profit.

Apple now has over $97 billion in cash, the company reported.
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