Apple Reports $7.5 Billion in Q4 Profits, Record 33.8 Million iPhones Sold [UPDATE]

Apple announced results for the September quarter—the company's fiscal 4th quarter—Monday, reporting US$37.5 billion in revenue—a new record—and $7.5 billion in profit. That's up from $36 billion in revenue from the year-ago quarter, but down from the $8.2 billion in earnings. Apple's gross margins slipped from 40 percent to 37 percent, and the company's iPhone unit sales rose from 26.9 million to 33.8 million, another record September quarter.

Apple sold some 14.1 million iPads during the quarter, a slight improvement from the 14 million the company sold in during Q4 in 2012. Mac sales were down year-over-year from 4.9 million to 4.6 million units.

All told, Mac unit sales declined 7 percent from the prior year,but that compares to a 10 percent decline for the broader PC market. This means Macs gained market share, something Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer was quick to point out in the company's conference call has happened in 29 of the last 30 quarters.

Apple's board of directors officially extended the $3.05 per share dividend for 2014, as well. That dividend will be payable to shareholders of record as of November 11th, 2013, at the close of business.

Apple CEO Tim Cook's fluff quote for the quarterly announcement was large devoid of meaningful commentary:

We’re pleased to report a strong finish to an amazing year with record fourth quarter revenue, including sales of almost 34 million iPhones. We’re excited to go into the holidays with our new iPhone 5c and iPhone 5s, iOS 7, the new iPad mini with Retina Display and the incredibly thin and light iPad Air, new MacBook Pros, the radical new Mac Pro, OS X Mavericks and the next generation iWork and iLife apps for OS X and iOS.

Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer's fluff quote was less fluffy in that he revealed Apple generated $9.9 billion in cash from operations during the quarter and returned another $7.8 billion to shareholders in the form of dividends and share repurchases. Apple has been on an aggressive campaign of returning money to shareholders during the last two years.

During the company's conference call with analysts, Apple said that it returned $2.8 billion to investors during the September quarter in the form of dividends, with another $5 billion in stock buybacks. All told, Apple has retired some 47 million shares during its buyback program, or 5 percent of the company's shares.

Apple provided significant guidance for the December quarter (Apple's fiscal 1st), including revenue between $55 billion and $58 billion. That would represent another record if Apple hits it. Note that Apple has been providing realistic guidance for the last year rather than the sandbagging the company did for more than a decade.

Gross margins will be between 36.5 and 37.5 percent, while operating expenses (OpEx) will be between $4.4 billion and $4.5 billion. Apple is guiding for $200 million in expenses and a tax rate of 26.25 percent.

[Update: This article was updated with additional information and details, including information from the company's quarterly conference calls with analysts. - Editor.]