Apple, the most valuable technology company, reported its most profitable-ever first quarter Tuesday. Buoyed by the new iPhone 4S, consumers rushed to the company's 361 stores, as well as wireless carriers for the new phones.
In reaction, Apple shares rose in after-market trading to a record $454.35, up 8 percent from Tuesday's close.
Apple said it sold 15.4 million iPad2s, more than double the year-earlier number; 37 million iPhones, more than double the year-earlier figure, and 5.2 million Macs, about 15 percent ahead of the 2010 quarter. iPod sales slid 21 percent to only 15.4 million.
Apple said first-quarter net income more than doubled to $13.06 billion, or $13.87 a share, far above estimates of $9.95 a share. Revenue soared 73 percent to a record $46.3 billion, far above estimates as well.
Apple's momentum is incredibly strong, said CEO Tim Cook, and we have some amazing new products in the pipeline.
Earlier, Peter Misek of Jefferies had estimated Apple sold as many as 35 million iPhones, 14 million iPad2s and even boosted sales of Macs and MacBook Air products in a quarter when sales of PCs barely budged.
A sticking point for the Cupertino, Calif.-based giant is its cash pile, which rose to nearly $98 billion in December, up $13 billion from September. Apple is under pressure to tap it for acquisitions, or perhaps a special dividend to shareholders, much like Microsoft in 2004. In a Tuesday night investor clal, though, CFO Peter Oppenheimer said there were no immediate plans to tap it.
Now that CEO Cook is running Apple without co-founder and late chairman Steve Jobs, he's free to implement his own policies. For the first time, Apple has been selling both old and new products in the iPhone line simultaneously, something Jobs wouldn't permit. There may be some other changes.
Cook, 51, and Oppenheimer, 48, also may announce eagerly anticipated shipping dates for the iPad3, Apple TV and other things. The two Apple veterans may shed more light on coming attractions that Jobs used to do. They briefed investors Tuesday night.
Many analysts expect the iPad3 to ship by early March and Apple TV or iTV to turn live as early as July. Last week, the company launched a new textbook initiative with major publishers including Pearson and McGraw Hill that would use iPads as in-school textbooks. Revenue expectations for the new iBooks2 plan weren't specified.
Apple's market capitalization is about $394 billion, making it the world's most valuable technology company and only slightly below ExxonMobil's $417.8 billion. Last week, shares set an all-time high of $428.45. They closed Tuesday at $420.50, down $6.91.