Wednesday, October 12, 2005 Posted: 1420 GMT (2220 HKT)

【SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) -- Apple Computer reported a quarterly profit that

quadrupled, but sales of its market-leading iPod digital music player fell

short of many analyst estimates, sending shares down by 6 percent.】

Apple sold 6.5 million iPods in the quarter, more than triple a year ago,

but some analysts targeted sales of 8 million.

"Expectations for Apple's results were pretty high," said Jim Fisher, a

fund manager at Univest Wealth Management, who owns Apple shares. "Revenue

came a bit lower than expected...."

Still, the company posted record revenues and net profits for its fourth

quarter and the full year. Apple has now sold more than 28 million iPods

since their introduction in 2001.

"We're thrilled to have concluded the best year in Apple's history," chief

executive Steve Jobs said.

Shares fell $3.26, or 6.3 percent, to $48.33 in early trade on Wall Street.

The earnings report also comes ahead of a Wednesday Apple announcement. An

iPod that plays video is widely expected to be unveiled.

Apple net income for the fiscal fourth quarter ended September 24 rose to

$430 million, or 50 cents a share, from $106 million, or 13 cents a share,

a year ago. Earnings included 12 cents per share in tax-related benefits.

Analysts had expected a net profit of 36 cents a share, on average. Revenue

rose 56 percent to $3.68 billion, shy of analyst expectations of $3.74

billion, according to Reuters Estimates.

Apple has about a 75 percent share of the entire digital music player market,

according to market research firm NPD Group. Last month, it unveiled its

credit-card sized iPod nano, which replaced the iPod mini, then the

best-selling iPod version.

*** 'Staggering sales' ***

Tim Cook, Apple's worldwide head of sales and operations, said on a

conference call that demand for the nano was "staggering," but analysts

said they had a hard time reconciling that with what they were seeing

in their own checks and surveys in the market.

"There are plenty of nanos out there and that doesn't reconcile with what

the company has said," American Technology Research analyst Shaw Wu said.

Apple shares have traded at a premium to other computer makers due to the

iPod phenomenon, and analysts said any disappointment was likely to lead

to a sell-off.

Based on Tuesday's closing price, Apple shares trade at about 30 times

estimated net earnings per share for its fiscal 2006 ending in September.

Shares of No. 1 PC maker Dell, which is focused on volume sales, trade at

about 17 times its estimated net earnings per share for its fiscal 2007

ending in January of that year.

Goldman Sachs analyst David Bailey had forecast that Apple would sell 7.8

million iPods in the just-completed quarter. Wu said he had expected iPod

unit sales of nearly 8 million.

For the current, first quarter Apple said it expects net earnings per share

of about 46 cents, including the expected cost of expensing options,

matching Wall Street's estimate. Excluding items, Apple said it expects

to earn about 49 cents per share, the company said, a penny better than

the average estimate.

The company said it expects first fiscal quarter sales of $4.7 billion,

better than the average estimate $4.49 billion.

"We're looking for continued growth for the company," said chief financial

officer Peter Oppenheimer in a telephone interview, referring to the

upcoming holiday sales-fueled quarter.

Apple sold 1.24 million desktop and notebook computers in the quarter, up

48 percent from a year ago, or triple the PC market rate, Oppenheimer said.

It sold 602,000 desktop Macs in the period, a 56 percent increase from a

year ago, and 634,000 notebook PCs, a 41 percent increase from a year ago.

(Copyright 2005 Reuters. All rights reserved.This material may not be published,

broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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