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Apple earnings leap 50 per cent

Jobs: 'We're a $50 billion company'

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Updated Apple began one of the most important weeks in its recent history by reporting a 50 per cent jump in profits for the first quarter of its fiscal year when compared with the same period in 2009.

This Wednesday, Apple is all but certain to unveil its long-awaited but still inscrutable iPad. Monday's news, however, left no room for speculation: The company earned a profit of $3.38bn. During the same period last year, earnings were $2.25 billion.

Overall revenue was equally strong: $15.68bn, compared to $11.88 billion in 2009's first quarter, beating consensus predictions by Wall Street guessmen.

The results showed strong growth from Apple's previous quarter - which was a barn-burner in its own right. In Q3, Apple sold more Macs and iPhones than in any previous quarter.

But after Q4, Steve Jobs has upped the stakes again. "If you annualize our quarterly revenue, it’s surprising that Apple is now a $50+ billion company," he said. "The new products we are planning to release this year are very strong, starting this week with a major new product that we’re really excited about."

There's that iPad again.

But this quarter's result reminded the world that Apple's not just a manufacturer of pocketable gadgets. Cupertino sold 3.36 million Macs during the quarter, a 33 per cent increase over the same period last year.

iPhone sales were also strong, with 8.7 million of the phones being snapped up. That's a 100 per cent increase over the year-ago quarter. ®

Update

Some analysts are opining that Apple's revenue surge was caused by an accounting change that redistributes the income and expense figures for iPhone and Apple TV. During the company's Monday-afternoon conference call with reporters and financial folk, Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer clarified that impact.

"Our actual revenue of $15.68bn exceeded the guidance that we gave under the old accounting principles by over $4bn," Oppenheimer said. "Roughly half of that was attributed to the performance of the business ... and the accounting change accounted for the other half of the $4bn."

So, yes, the accounting change had an impact, but Apple still exceeded the goals that it had announced at the end of last quarter by $2bn directly attributable to performance.

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