Apple Posts Record Profit & Sales for December Quarter [Update]

$AAPLApple announced results for the December quarter on Wednesday, posting record sales of US$54.5 billion and a record profit of $13.1 billion. Both numbers were led by iPhone and iPad sales of 47.8 million and 22.9 million units respectively.

“We’re thrilled with record revenue of over $54 billion and sales of over 75 million iOS devices in a single quarter,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a statement. “We’re very confident in our product pipeline as we continue to focus on innovation and making the best products in the world.”

iPhone sales were well up over last year's 37 million units, but were just below the consensus estimates of 48-50 million units expected by Wall Street. iPad sales were also well up over last year's 15.4 million units.

Mac sales were well off of 2011's results, with Apple posting 4.1 million units sold compared to 5.1 million in the year-ago quarter. Analysts were expecting unit sales of 5 million. Apple's Mac results were hampered by delays to the iMac line that was refreshed in October, especially the 27-inch model, which didn't ship until very late in the quarter.

Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer said his company generated $23 billion in cash during the quarter.

The company also provided bullet-point guidance for the March quarter, including:

  • revenue between $41 billion and $43 billion
  • gross margin between 37.5 percent and 38.5 percent
  • operating expenses between $3.8 billion and $3.9 billion
  • other income/(expense) of $350 million
  • tax rate of 26%

Guidance will be scrutinized by analysts and investors, and we'll have more in our detailed coverage of Apple's conference call.

The company's stock sank in after-hours trading. $AAPL had edged higher throughout the day in anticipation of the company's results, ending the day at US$514.005, up $9.235 (+1.83 percent), on strong volume of 25 million shares.

After-hours traders sent the stock back below $500—as of this writing, $AAPL was trading at $486.88, down $27.125 (-5.28 percent). After-hours trading tends to be exaggerated in the wake of an earnings report, but barring an upbeat conference call with analysts, $AAPL will probably trade lower in the regular session on Thursday.

*In the interest of full disclosure, the author holds a tiny, almost insignificant share in AAPL stock that was not an influence in the creation of this article.