iPhone frenzy drives Apple record
Technology giant Apple posted record quarterly results after it sold a greater-than-expected 37 million iPhones worldwide in the last three months of 2011.
Sales of the smartphone more than doubled in the 14 weeks to December 31, which included the launch of the latest model, the iPhone 4S, and helped Apple's net profit more than double to 13.06 billion US dollars (£8.4 billion).
The company, which was founded by Steve Jobs, who died at the start of the quarter at the age of 56, also delivered huge sales of its tablet computer, the iPad, selling 15.43 million in the three-month period, compared with 7.3 million a year earlier.
The stellar results, which also revealed a 26% increase in sales of its Mac computer to 5.2 million, beat analyst expectations and cheered investors in Asia, where markets posted solid gains overnight.
Chris Weston, institutional trader at IG Markets, said: "It's hard to paint the numbers as anything but blowout, and clearly despite reasonably elevated expectations, they simply took consensus down to the woodshed and chopped it apart."
Apple shares rose 7% in New York after the company released its results, giving it a market value of around 391 billion US dollars (£250 billion).
The company has avoided any damage from a clampdown in consumer spending and a surge in competition from smartphone manufacturers and new tablet computers, such as the November launch of Amazon's Kindle Fire.
Elsewhere, the group revealed record quarterly revenues of 46.33 billion US dollars (£29.7 billion), up from 26.74 billion US dollars (£17.1 billion) a year earlier. The company increased its gross profit margins in the quarter, despite the rising cost of raw materials, from 38.5% to 44.7%.
The only damp figure was a 21% drop in iPod sales to 15.4 million, but the iPhone and iPad both have music-playing features, which could explain the decline.
Meanwhile, chief executive Tim Cook, who replaced Mr Jobs, hinted at future gadgets, which are rumoured to include a March release of the iPad 3. He said: "Apple's momentum is incredibly strong, and we have some amazing new products in the pipeline."