Apple posts biggest quarter yet: $54B in revenue, 47.8M iPhones sold

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For its first fiscal quarter of 2012, Apple posted its largest quarterly revenue ever: $54.5 billion. It also netted $13.3 billion in profits and earnings per share of $13.81. Earnings were right in line with what Wall Street was looking for: between $52.01 billion and $59.55 billion in revenue, and earnings per share between $11.97 and $15.50.

As expected, the iPhone blew away the previous record, 37 million units, set during the same quarter a year ago. Here are the device sales numbers:

  • iPhone: 47.8 million, up from 37 million a year ago.
  • iPad: 22.9 million, up from 15.4 million a year ago (how many were iPad minis? Hopefully we’ll find out on the call later.)
  • Mac: 4.1 million, down by more than a million units from the same quarter a year ago, a result which IDC had foreshadowed earlier this month.
  • iPod: 12.7 million, down from 15.4 million last December quarter.

In a statement, CEO Tim Cook said, “We’re thrilled with record revenue of over $54 billion and sales of over 75 million iOS devices in a single quarter.” He also made a subtle reference to the ongoing handwringing among Apple investors that the iPhone isn’t expected to sell as well going forward: “We’re very confident in our product pipeline as we continue to focus on innovation and making the best products in the world.”

One of the metrics — that analysts will pay a lot of attention to — is Apple’s decreased gross margins for the quarter. Despite skyrocketing sales of its mobile devices, Apple’s gross margins fell to 38.6 percent, compared to 44.7 percent in the same quarter in 2011. Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer had warned analysts about this last quarter, and blamed the sheer number of new devices it was building.

It’s not expecting much better for next quarter either: the company is forecasting gross margins to be somewhere between. 37.5 percent and 38.5 percent. Apple is also forecasting lower revenues for Q2, between $41 billion and $43 billion, which is typical for the first quarter of the year following the big holiday quarter.

Update: Apple is clearly not going to reveal how many iPad minis it sold. Oppenheimer skirted around a question about this on the analyst conference call Wednesday afternoon, saying Apple could not meet demand of iPad minis, that “we were constrained every week” and “we wish we coudl have made more.”

However, Cook did talk a bit about Apple TV. Apple sold more than 2 million of the set-top boxes in the quarter, which he said was up more than 60 percent from the same quarter a year ago. But he didn’t want to get specific. Apple TV “remains an area of intense interest for us. I tend to believe that there’s a lot we can contribute in this space and we continue to pull the string and see where it leads us.”

This post was updated several times with more information about earnings.

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