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Apple posts highest revenue for three years

Selling much fewer Macs though

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Apple posted a net profit of $19 million (five cents a share) for its third fiscal quarter last night on sales of $1.545 billion - it's highest quarterly sales since 2000.

Sales were up 7.4 per cent on the year-ago quarter, which yielded revenues of $1.43 billion, and up 4.5 per cent on the previous quarter's figure of $1.475 billion.

Income was up sequentially but well down year-on-year: up 26.3 per cent on last quarter's $14 million profit and down 40.6 per cent on Q3 2002.

Gross margins were up fractionally year on year, from 27.4 per cent to 27.7 per cent, the company said.

Mac shipments were down to 771,000 from 808,000, a decline of 4.6 per cent. However, shipments were up sequentially, by 7.8 per cent from 711,000 units.

Higher revenue from lower shipments suggests a marked shift toward high-ticket items like the PowerBook range, confirming perhaps CEO Steve Jobs' assertion that 2003 will be the year of the notebook. Alas notebooks are relatively low-margin items - thanks in particular to recent LCD price rises, noted by Apple CFO Fred Anderson.

The last time Apple posted revenues of one-and-a-half billion dollars or more, in Q2 2002, its income was $40 million, more than double what it made in the past quarter. For what it's worth, Apple hasn't posted this much quarterly revenue since Q4 2000.

Relatively weak economies in Japan and Europe ensured Apple's overseas sales were down from 42 per cent last in Q2 to 39 per this past quarter.

Anderson forecast "an increase in revenues and a slight increase in earnings relative to the June quarter" for Q4. It will be interesting to see how sales of the G5, due to commence in August - though probably late in the month, most of the way through the quarter, in other words - will affect unit shipments. The Power Mac line has been in the doldrums of late, a trend which the G5 should reverse. But equally, as Anderson himself admitted during the earnings conference call, pros are increasingly choosing portables over desktops. He said he expects G5 sales to total around 200,000 units a quarter. ®

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