Apple Computer surprised both analysts and markets today by announcing its strongest fourth quarter in nine years, with a $106 million profit on a whopping $2.35 billion in revenue for its final quarter of 2004. Moreover, Apple shipped more than 2 million iPod music players during the quarter, and the quarter represents a startling 37 percent revenue increase compared to the same quarter last year. The results include a $4 million restructuring charge. Gross margins for the quarter stayed high at 27 percent, and international sales represented 37 percent of revenue. Significantly, Apple’s retail store revenue was up 95 percent from the same quarter last year.
Despite a delay caused by shortages of G5 processors, Apple says the new iMac G5 is off to a strong start; Apple shipped 836,000 Macs during the quarter, more than half of which were iBooks and PowerBooks. The 2.02 million iPods Apple shipped represents a 500 percent increase over the same quarter a year ago; some 6 percent of those iPods were manufactured by Hewlett-Packard as part of the companies’ production alliance. Looking forward, the company expects its next fiscal quarter (which includes the holiday buying season) to be strong, with revenues between $2.8 and $2.9 billion.