Apple posted its most recent quarterly earnings on Tuesday, comfortably outdoing Wall Street's most optimistic expectations and marking the biggest quarterly profit ever made by a public company.
During the first quarter with the iPhone 6 smartphones on sale for the entire period, the Cupertino company sold a record 74.4m iPhones in the three months to the end of 2014, 9 million more than expected, according to CNBC. "This volume was hard to comprehend," CEO Tim Cook said during a conference call to discuss the earnings. "34,000 iPhones sold per hour, 24 hours a day, every day of the quarter."
Gazprom profits leapfrogged
Apple reported net profit of $18bn (£11.8bn), the biggest quarterly earnings figure that has been posted by any company in history. The figure tops the $16.2bn record held previously by Russia's Gazprom, the largest natural gas extractor in the world. Analysts were generally expecting the company to report EPS of $2.60 for the quarter on $67.69bn in revenue, whilst Apple's own guidance was in the range of $63.5bn to $66.5bn in total revenue. However, Apple reported EPS of $3.06 on revenue of $74.6bn, and saw its cash pile rose to almost $178bn, up 15 per cent from the previous quarter.
"We'd like to thank our customers for an incredible quarter, which saw demand for Apple products soar to an all-time high," said Cook. "Our revenue grew 30 per cent over last year to $74.6bn, and the execution by our teams to achieve these results was simply phenomenal."
The blockbuster earnings have largely to do with a boost in sales figures led by China, according to the WSJ. The Journal report states that Apple topped all other smartphone makers in the country by units shipped in the fourth quarter for the first time in history, contributing to the 70 per cent jump in revenue to $16.14bn year-on-year in Greater China. This makes it the third-largest market after the U.S. and Europe, which recorded a rise in sales of 23 per cent and 20 per cent respectively.
Sales of the iPad continue to disappoint, with the company selling 21.4 million units, down from the 26 million reported a year ago. The success of its latest big-screen iPhone 6 Plus was speculated to have contributed to cannibalising sales of the iPad, and the tablet is being squeezed both by lower-priced competition and a resurgence in laptop sales.
Watch out in April
In addition to sharing its shining earnings report Apple revealed that it plans to ship its first wearable, the Apple Watch, in April of this year. With a relatively high base price it is unclear whether the wearable will be able to tempt those other than devoted Apple fans to adopt this technology.
Apple is forecasting revenue of $52bn to $55bn for the current quarter, versus analysts' expectations of $53.79bn. Following the news, shares rose more than 5 per cent in trading after the US markets had closed.