Apple Profits Beat Expectations on iPod, Laptop Sales

Apple Computer Inc.'s (AAPL) fourth-quarter earnings soared on strong sales of laptop computers and its popular iPod music players, helping the company notch its highest revenue for the quarter in nine years.

The results easily topped Wall Street's expectations.

The Cupertino, Calif.-based company attributed the successful quarter to robust sales across its product line, namely its iBook (search) and PowerBook (search) computers, its iPod music players and stronger-than-expected results from its retail and education sectors.

"They all came together and did very well," said Peter Oppenheimer, Apple's chief financial officer said in an interview.

For the three months ended Sept. 25, Apple said it earned $106 million, or 26 cents per share. In the same period last year, the company earned $44 million, or 12 cents a share.

Excluding a one-time restructuring charge of $4 million, Apple said that it would have earned $110 million, or 27 cents per share.

Revenue for the quarter was $2.35 billion, up 37 percent from $1.7 billion in the year-ago quarter.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call had projected earnings of 18 cents a share on revenue of $2.15 billion.

Although its list of rivals for portable music players is growing, Apple clearly dominates. The iPod (search) accounts for about 92 percent of unit sales of hard-drive based players and more than 65 percent of the overall portable player category, according to Apple.

The company said it sold more than 2 million iPods during the quarter — a record — while retail store revenues grew 95 percent from the year-ago period. Sales of laptops and iPods also led to the education sector's best performance in four years, with unit sales up 19 percent and revenues up 21 percent, Oppenheimer said.

Before the earnings report, Apple shares climbed $1.46 to close at $39.75 Wednesday on the Nasdaq Stock Market. They surged 6 percent, or $2.36, in the extended session.