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Apple tops estimates with earnings leap of 118 per cent

Wall Street moneymen looking a wee bit silly

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Apple blew past even the most optimistic Wall Street earnings estimates for the first quarter of its fiscal 2012, posting revenues of $46.33bn, resulting in a quarterly net profit of $13.06bn, or $13.87 per share.

"We're thrilled with our outstanding results and record-breaking sales of iPhones, iPads and Macs," said CEO Tim Cook in a statement accompanying the results.

"Apple's momentum is incredibly strong," Cook said – then added, teasingly, "and we have some amazing new products in the pipeline."

Sales and profits were significantly above what the Wall Street moneymen had expected. Fortune's averaging of the estimates of "six analysts with the best track records" came up with revenues of $41.87bn and earnings per share (EPS) of $11.57, based on sales of 31.73 million iPhones, 15.77 million iPods, 5.14 million Macs, and 14.17 iPads.

Apple sold 37.04 million iPhones in the quarter, along with 15.4 million iPods, 5.2 million Macs, and 15.43 million iPads. The only number that came in lower than estimates was that of iPod sales – and, quite frankly, who cares about those aging digital-music players?

Fortune's prognosticators were more optimistic than most. Analysts polled by FactSet Research, MarketWatch reported, predicted revenues of $39bn and an EPS of $10.06. The 40-plus analysts polled by Yahoo! Finance differed only slightly, guessing forecasting revenues of $38.85bn and an EPS of $10.08.

Back in October of last year, when announcing revenues of $28.27bn and EPS of $7.05 for the fourth quarter of its 2011 fiscal year, Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer was more conservative still, projecting that revenues for the first fiscal quarter of 2012 – the quarter announced today – would be $37bn and EPS at "about" $9.30.

In retrospect, Oppenheimer's guidance, as the moneymen call it, might even be characterized as sandbagging. Apple's $46.33bn Q1 2012 revenues were 25 per cent over guidance, and EPS was nearly 50 per cent over guidance – 49.1 per cent, if you want to be exact.

Two more "Apple is kicking some serious hiney" stats: that $13.06bn net income figure is a cool 118 per cent increase over the $6bn in net income during the same period last year, and the 31.73 million iPhone sales represent a jump of 128 per cent from Q4 2011.

We can only assume that CEO Tim Cook must be enjoying his job – and that maybe some of those Wall Street analysts might need to start looking for new ones. ®

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