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Apple sales top US$20 billion in fiscal fourth quarter

Philip Michaels | Oct. 19, 2010
Apple reported record revenue and earnings for its fiscal fourth quarter, thanks to strong sales of Macs, iPhones, and iPads.

While iPod sales growth stalled throughout 2010, Apple opted to focus on the positive Monday. It noted that the iPod's share of the MP3 player market in the U.S. continues to top 70 percent, according to research firm NPD's figures. And Apple says its music player gained market share internationally from the year-ago quarter. The company also reported that its iTunes Store brought in more than $1 billion in revenue for the September quarter.

Jobs even took a minute to comment on the company's "hobby" product, the Apple TV, announcing that it had moved more than 250,000 units since the device went on sale. That's the first time the company has ever revealed sales information for the device, which has gone through a number of iterations since its original introduction in 2007. Jobs confirmed that Apple had moved to an all-streaming model for content for the device, which will allow streaming of media from iOS devices in November when Apple ships iOS 4.2.

Retail rules

Apple's retail segment had what Oppenheimer called a "record-breaking quarter," with revenue rising 75 percent to $3.57 billion. Apple sold 874,000 Macs through its retail arm, an increase of 30 percent from the year-ago quarter. The company said that half of the Mac sales through its brick-and-mortar outlets continue to be to customers who are new to the platform.

Apple ended the fourth quarter with 317 stores, 84 of which were outside the U.S. The company opened 24 new stores during the quarter, with 16 of those opening outside of U.S. borders. In fact, with new store openings in Spain, Apple now has retail outlets in 11 countries.

As with the iPhone, China proved to be a fertile ground for Apple's retail efforts. Newly opened stores in Beijing and Shanghai recorded the highest opening day revenue when they launched during the quarter. Apple says its four stores in China have the highest traffic of any of its outlets.

Look for the company to continue to expand internationally during 2011. It plans to open 40 to 50 stores during the coming fiscal year, with half of those slated for outside the U.S. The company also plans to start renovating several of its U.S. stores during 2011.

This year and next

Monday's earnings report closes the book on Apple's 2010 fiscal year, which saw the company record $65.2 billion in sales. That's an increase of 52 percent from the $42.9 billion in revenue recorded in 2009. Apple turned a $14 billion profit in 2010, an increase of 72 percent from the previous year.

"The September quarter was the culmination of a monumental year for Apple," Oppenheimer said.

For the first quarter of 2011, Oppenheimer told analysts to expect revenue of $23 billion and earnings per share of $4.80. Apple's guidance tends to be on the conservative side. Prior to Monday's briefing, analysts were predicting earnings of $5.04 per share on $22 billion in revenue for the coming quarter.


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