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Apple just had the most profitable quarter of any company ever

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Apple just had the most profitable quarter of any company ever

Steve Jobs may not have liked the idea of bigger iPhones, but Apple customers clearly do.

Apple sold 74.5 million iPhones in the December quarter, the first full three-month period that the new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus devices were on sale, setting a new record for iPhone sales in the holiday quarter. By comparison, Apple sold 51 million iPhones in the same quarter a year earlier after releasing the iPhone 5S.

The growth in iPhone sales helped propel Apple’s overall fiscal performance. The Cupertino company posted earnings of $3.06 per share (or $18 billion in total) on revenue of $74.6 billion, crushing the consensus among analysts for earnings of $2.60 per share on revenue of about $67.5 billion.

To put that into perspective, Apple’s $18 billion profit for the quarter was greater than the gross revenue that Google reported in the third fiscal quarter. It’s also nearly as much as the $22 billion in net income that Microsoft reported for ALL of the 2014 fiscal year.

Almost as notable as the number of iPhones sold is the fact that the average selling price of iPhones actually ticked up in the quarter, perhaps due to the more expensive price tag of the 6 Plus and the subtle push to iPhones with more storage space.

 

On the earnings call that followed, Apple CEO Tim Cook revealed that the company sold an average of 34,000 iPhones every hour last quarter and has now shipped one billion iOS devices to date (the billionth devicewas a space-gray iPhone 6 Plus). Cook also said the the new Apple Watch was on track to ship in April, the most precise timeline that the company has offered to date.

Cook declined to provide a break down of sales for the iPhone 6 verses the 6 Plus, other than to say the 6 was the top seller, but both did “incredibly well.” Some geographic regions, he added, skewed more to the 6 Plus than others.

While Apple had stellar iPhone sales, its iPad sales were far more lackluster. The company sold just more than 21 million iPads during the holiday quarter, down from 26 million a year earlier, continuing a downward trend in recent quarters. That decline is all the more symbolic considering Tuesday marked the fifth anniversary of the original iPad launch event.

“I am still very optimistic and bullish on iPad over the long run as I’ve indicated before,” Cook said on the call, before admitting that he doesn’t expect the numbers to change dramatically in the next couple quarters.

He ticked off some of the factors constraining iPad sales growth — a “longer upgrade cycle,” some “cannibalization” from the Mac and the iPhone — but pointed to “first-time buyer rates” for iPads and commerce and business potential with the devices as cause for optimism.

“I believe that over the long arc of time, the iPad is a great business,” Cook said.

Apple’s stock moved up as much as 6% in after hours trading following the earnings release.

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