Apple on Thursday revealed record revenue and profit figures for the fourth quarter ended September 2012, riding on 58 per cent higher iPhone sales over the same period last year, even as new worries emerged for the US firm.
The Cupertino-based maker of iPhone smartphones, iPad tablets, Macbook notebooks and iMac desktop computers posted revenue of $36 billion and net profit of $8.2 billion, or $8.67 per diluted share for its last quarter.In comparison, the company had recorded a revenue of $28.3 billion and net profit of $6.6 billion, or $7.05 per diluted share, in the year-ago quarter. However, it saw its gross margin decline by a fraction to 40 per cent compared with 40.3 per cent in the year-ago quarter.
Higher international sales accounted for 60 percent of the quarter's revenue. Apple ended the quarter with $121.3 billion in cash and securities, of which $83 billion was offshore.
Apple sold 26.9 million iPhones in the quarter, representing 58 per cent unit growth over the year-ago quarter.
But the reported iPad sales by Apple fell short of Wall Street's expectations, marring the company's record of consistently exceeding investors' expectations. It sold 14.0 million iPads during the quarter, a modest 26 percent unit increase in the same period. It was well below the forecasts as the economy remained weak and consumers also awaited the iPad mini, for which pre-orders started on Thursday night.
Apple's computer sales seem to have virtually frozen as it sold 4.9 million Macs during the quarter, a mere1 percent unit increase over the year-ago quarter. Apple also saw a 19 per cent unit sales decline at 5.3 million iPods.
As a result, shares in the world's most valuable technology company briefly dipped to levels not seen since the start of August, after it delivered a 27 percent rise in revenue. The share later bounced back after the CEO Tim Cook's conference call with analysts.
Apple's board of directors declared a cash dividend of $2.65 per share of the company's common stock. The dividend - same as the previous quarter ending July - will be payable on November 15, to shareholders as per records on close of day on November 12.
"We're very proud to end a fantastic fiscal year with record September quarter results," said Tim Cook, Apple's CEO, in a statement. "We're entering this holiday season with the best iPhone, iPad, Mac and iPod products ever, and we remain very confident in our new product pipeline."
Together with the iPad 2, these two new iPads (iPad 3 and Mini) run more than 275,000 apps in the App Store. Recognised revenue from sales of iPad and iPad accessories during the quarter was up by 9% at $7.5 billion compared to $6.9 billion in the year-ago quarter. Apple ended the quarter with about 3.4 million iPads in channel inventory, a sequential increase of about 200,000, pointed out Cook.
"We're pleased to have generated over $41 billion in net income and over $50 billion in operating cash flow in fiscal 2012," said Peter Oppenheimer, Apple's chief financial officer (CFO).
"Looking ahead to the first fiscal quarter of 2013, we expect revenue of about $52 billion and diluted earnings per share of about $11.75."
This targeted revenue of $52 billion in the December quarter is below the average estimate of $55 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. Similarly, Apple is expecting margins to grow by 36 per cent, far lower than analysts' expected 43 per cent.
Oppenheimer mostly attributed the lower margin and conservative guidance to a combination of a stronger dollar, higher costs associated with new products, and the fact that Apple's next fiscal quarter has one less week than the same period a year ago.
Apple's stock was holding steady at $609.40 in extended trade after flirting with the $600 level. The shares had ended regular trade at $609.54.
Supply constraints holding up sales of the iPad and iPhone dominated discussions between analysts and Apple executives during the post-results conference call. Apple has struggled to deliver large quantities of the iPhone 5 since its launch in late September, with the waitlist for the device at one point stretching to three weeks in some regions.
"Our supply output is significantly higher than it was in early October," Cook said, referring to the iPhone 5. "And I'm confident that we'll be able to supply quite a few during the quarter."