Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Apple crushes Street targets, dispels iPhone fears

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Apple Inc's quarterly results beat Wall Street estimates on stronger-than-expected demand for the iPhone, especially in the greater China region where sales jumped five-fold.

While iPad sales were a little lighter than expected, the overall results sent the stock up 7 percent, recouping some losses from the past two weeks that had stemmed from concerns about weakening sales growth for iPhones.

Apple sold 35.1 million iPhones - which accounts for about half its revenue - in the March quarter, outpacing the 30 million or so expected by Wall Street analysts.

Margins blew past forecasts - helped by lower-than-expected commodity costs - while a five-fold iPhone sales surge in China, Taiwan and Hong Kong bolstered revenue in the region to $7.9 billion.

Some investors had feared intensifying competition from Google Inc's Android phones - made by the likes of Motorola Mobility and Samsung Electronics - might pressure margins and eat into its market share.

"That shows they are able to maintain their pricing without compromising on growth," said Morningstar analyst Michael Holt.

"There are lower-priced alternatives from the Android world that are becoming more compelling. The concern was that Apple might sell more older models to be more competitive. That would have shown up in the gross margin. But aggregate gross margin and average revenue per device show that this hasn't happened."

Apple sold 11.8 million iPads, the latest version of which hit store shelves in mid-March. That compared with the average forecast of up to 13 million. Learn More

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