Apple announced record results in its fiscal first quarter ending December 14, pushed up by especially strong holiday sales of iPhones worldwide.
The company announced earnings of $3.06 per share on revenues of $74.6 billion for the quarter. Net profit for the quarter was $18 billion. Yahoo analysts were expecting earnings per share of $2.60 on revenues of $67.69 billion for the quarter. Apple reported earnings of $2.07 per share on revenues of $57.59 in the same quarter a year ago.
For a bit of perspective, analysts estimate that Google needed all of 2014 to earn $66.4 billion in revenue.
But it’s more than that. Apple’s net profit of $18 billion is the largest recorded quarterly profit in history. The company beat out the previous leader, the Russian energy company Gazprom, which reported $16.24 billion in profits during the first quarter of 2011.
Apple’s gross margin on sales during the quarter was a healthy 39.9 percent, compared to 37.9 percent in the year-ago quarter.
Apple reported strong results last quarter, too — $1.43 per share on revenues of $42.1 billion — but those numbers seem modest compared Apple’s performance during the 2015 holiday season, in which the iPhone 6 was the “go-to” gift item for many people.
Huge iPhone sales
Apple sold 74.5 million iPhones in the quarter, a new record.
This blows away analyst expectations. Bloomberg analysts predicted Apple would report sales of 65 million iPhones in its fiscal first quarter.
CEO Tim Cook said on the Apple earnings call that from December 19 to 25, more than half of all the phones activated worldwide were iPhones.
And, as expected, international sales of iPhones and other devices accounted for a large part of total revenues — 65 percent, to be exact.
In China, for example, Apple for the first time beat out local giants Huawei and Xiaomi as the top-selling smartphone brand during the quarter. The latest estimates come from Canalys, an independent analyst firm, which said the U.S. company reached the milestone thanks to the “incredible popularity” of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus in China.
iPad sales continue down
Sales of iPads continued flattening out in the December-ending quarter. Apple reported sales of 21.4 million units, a 21 percent drop from the year ago period. Bloomberg analysts predicted Apple would sell 22 million iPads during the quarter, representing a decline of 14 from last year.
Apple said Mac sales jumped 15 percent to 5.52 million units last quarter, no doubt bolstered somewhat by holiday season demand. This tallied with a consensus of Bloomberg analysts, who predicted sales of 5.5 million during the quarter.
“Our exceptional results produced EPS growth of 48 percent over last year, and $33.7 billion in operating cash flow during the quarter, an all-time record,” said Apple CFO Luca Maestri in a statement. “We spent over $8 billion on our capital return program, bringing total returns to investors to almost $103 billion, over $57 billion of which occurred in just the last 12 months.”
Next quarter: Winter blues?
Overall, Yahoo analysts expect Apple to slump in the next quarter (ending in mid-March), with earnings per share falling to $2.01 on revenues of $53.79 billion.
Apple is predicting revenue between $52 billion and $55 billion next quarter, with gross margins coming in at between 38.5 percent and 39.5 percent.