What a lousy day to report earnings. The Dow fell 231.77 points, or 2.5 percent, to finish at 9,033.66, and Nasdaq dropped 73.35 points, or 4.1 percent, to finish at 1,696.68, in a market that beat most tech issues into bloody submission. Not the sort of jovial earnings report atmosphere you hope for when you’re a company whose share price has lost half its value since the beginning of the year.
But that was the hand that Apple (AAPL) was dealt. And so, with its stock trading at a little over $91 in a dismal market, the company reported fourth quarter results. And lo and behold, they’re good. Very good.
Apple, which typically low-balls its earnings forecasts and then exceeds them, appears to have done so once again. The company posted revenue of $7.9 billion and net quarterly profit of $1.14 billion, quite a bit more than the profit of $1 a share on $7.8 billion in revenue it had forecast. It shipped 2,611,000 Macs during the quarter, over 11 million iPods and nearly seven million iPhones–6,892,000 to be exact. Said CFO Peter Oppenheimer, “We had a quarterly record for Macintosh sales, and we blew it out on the iPhone.”
Apple CEO Steve Jobs was even more effusive in his praise. “Apple just reported one of the best quarters in its history, with a spectacular performance by the iPhone–we sold more phones than RIM,” Jobs said in a statement. “We don’t yet know how this economic downturn will affect Apple. But we’re armed with the strongest product line in our history, the most talented employees and the best customers in our industry. And $25 billion of cash safely in the bank with zero debt.”
Not “the best quarter ever,” as Jobs is often wont to say. But one of them. An impressive showing amid the current econaclypse.
And what of future guidance? Apple is, once again keeping with tradition. The company delivered a first-quarter outlook well below analysts’ forecasts.