SAN FRANCISCO — Strong sales to shoppers in emerging markets and to business customers helped Apple extend its lengthy streak of stellar performance in its earnings report on Tuesday.
Even without introducing any major new products, the company attracted legions of consumers in the fiscal third quarter. Profits doubled, and revenue increased 82 percent as shoppers continued to buy iPhones and iPads in record numbers. As one example of its success, Apple turned its tablet into a $6 billion business in the quarter. That is twice as big as Dell’s entire consumer PC business. Mac computers also showed solid gains, even as competitors struggle to sell PCs.
The results helped to lift Apple’s shares 4.5 percent in after-hours trading, to $393.81. Apple’s shares had already reached a record high in regular trading, and they are almost certain to do so again on Wednesday. Consumers in emerging markets like China, Brazil and the Middle East played a major role in propelling iPhone sales, Apple said. So did the adoption of the iPhone and iPad by businesses.
Apple did not offer precise figures on how many companies used its phone and tablet, but it gave examples of several — Nestlé, Comcast and Crédit Agricole among them — that used the iPhone in their workplaces, and others — Alaska Airlines, Nordstrom — that used the iPad. Apple also said 86 percent of Fortune 500 companies were either testing or deploying the iPad for use in their offices.
In China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, Apple said, sales of all its products grew nearly six times from a year ago. The iPhone continued to be in high demand, with 20.34 million sold worldwide, more than double the number from the same quarter a year earlier. The gain came even though an update to the phone is expected later this year, presumably causing some potential customers to postpone buying until the new model, the iPhone 5, becomes available.
Sales of iPads nearly tripled to 9.25 million worldwide as Apple increased production and started clearing a backlog of orders dating from the March introduction of the new version, the iPad 2. Apple executives had blamed limited manufacturing capacity for the initial shortage. “Sales of iPad 2 have absolutely been a frenzy,” Tim Cook, Apple’s chief operating officer, said in a conference call with analysts. He added: “We sold every iPad 2 in the quarter that we could make. Certainly there was no shortage of demand.”
Colin Gillis, an analyst with BGC Partners, praised Apple’s overall growth and its ability to sell so many iPhones ahead of a product update. By far, it is the best performing of large technology companies, he said. “At some point, the music ends,” Mr. Gillis said. “But when you look out at least for the next couple of quarters, I don’t see much of a slowdown.”
Steven P. Jobs, Apple’s chief executive, who is on medical leave, did not participate in the conference call. A number of companies like Hewlett-Packard and Samsung are trying to get a piece of the tablet market, an important part of the consumer electronics industry. But Apple is expected to remain dominant with a 78 percent share of the global market in 2011, according to eMarketer.
Apple, based in Cupertino, Calif., reported that net income in the fiscal third quarter that ended June 25 more than doubled to $7.31 billion, or $7.79 a share, from $3.25 billion, or $3.51 a share, in the year-ago quarter. The company said revenue climbed 82 percent, to $28.57 billion, from $15.7 billion. The net income was above the expectations of Wall Street analysts. They had expected $5.80 a share and revenue of $24.92 billion, according to a survey of analysts by Thomson Reuters. Sales of Apple computers did well in the quarter, with a 14 percent gain worldwide to 3.95 million. The increase far outpaced the modest 2.3 percent industrywide growth during the quarter, as estimated by Gartner, the market research company.
The slow growth in overall computer sales is attributed to a shift by consumers to tablets and cautious spending by corporations. Also, strong growth in the same quarter last year made comparisons difficult. IPod sales continued their decline, falling 20 percent, to 7.54 million. Apple’s string of growth over the years has made it a darling of investors. The company is now the most valuable in the technology industry, with a market capitalization of nearly $350 billion, dwarfing many of its rivals.
Apple’s market value is more than 10 times Dell’s, for example, and nearly five times Hewlett-Packard’s. In keeping with its usual practice, Apple issued a conservative forecast for the fourth quarter. Revenue will be around $25 billion, the company said, while net profit will be close to $5.50 a share, both well below analyst expectations of $27.7 billion in revenue and $6.42 a share in profit.
In the conference call, analysts pointed out the discrepancy. Peter Oppenheimer, Apple’s chief financial officer, said the company’s forecast took into account the disruption caused by the introduction of a new product, which he would not disclose. That product is widely believed to be the next-generation iPhone.
Copyright 2011 by The New York Times