Apple Inc.'s quarterly results blew past analyst expectations as U.S. consumers snapped up nearrecord numbers of iPhones and iPads, sending its shares up eight per cent.
The world's most valuable technology corporation returned to form after a rare miss in the previous quarter. It sold 37.04 million iPhones - its flagship product - and 15.43 million iPad tablets, doubling from a year earlier and easily outpacing already heightened expectations for a strong holiday season.
And it smashed estimates on all its results including gross margin, which came in at 44.7 per cent during the quarter.
Apple's sales in the U.S. were particularly strong, with revenue rising 90 per cent in the Americas region. Sales in Europe were up 55 per cent even though the region was in the grip of a debt crisis that has hurt consumer confidence.
"Going into 2012, I expect strength of iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad should carry on into the year. Apple still has some tailwind, including opening up new retail stores and expanding its distribution channels," said Hendi Susanto at Gabelli & Co.
"I would say Apple still has many unpenetrated international markets ... Apple is still far from its saturation."
The consumer electronics giant said on Tuesday its revenue leaped 73 per cent to $46.33 billion U.S., handily beating the average Wall Street analyst estimate of $38.91 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Apple reported a net profit of $13.06 billion, or $13.87 a share. Analysts had expected Apple to earn $10.16 per share.
Average projections for sales of Apple products during the fiscal first quarter were for roughly 31 million iPhones, 13.5 million to 14 million iPads and five million Mac computers.
On Tuesday, Apple also forecast results for its fiscal second quarter that were ahead of analyst estimates. It expects revenue of about $32.5 billion and diluted earnings per share of about $8.50.
"It sets up Apple well for the rest of the year," said Canaccord Genuity's Michael Walkley. "They are still ramping up the new geographies like the iPhone 4 in China, which they just started selling in January and we'll see in March results," he said, adding: "iPhones and Siri (are) still driving strong. An iPhone 5 for the end of the year . will drive another set of gains in 2012."
The December quarterly report marked Apple's first quarter without its legendary co-founder Steve Jobs, who died Oct. 5.