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Apple Q2-05 Earnings Breeze Past Estimates

Apple’s latest quarterly report turned in another stunner: $290 million in net earnings in their most recent fiscal quarter ending 26-Mar-05, compared to $46 million a year ago. These second quarter results include sales of 5.3 million iPods and 1.07 million Macs, up from 807,000 iPods and 749,000 Macs during the same quarter a year ago. Revenue in this past quarter was $3.24 billion, versus $1.91 billion the previous year. Analysts expected Apple to turn in about a 24-cent-per-share set of results; the actual results were 34 cents per share with apparently no extraordinary one-time items.

The sheer number of iPods sold, of which perhaps a quarter were iPod shuffles (said analysts, not Apple), shouldn’t blind you to the 1.07 million Macs shipped, of which just under half were “iMacs,” which includes both iMacs and Mac minis. This number represents the most Macs by unit that Apple has sold in four years.

Also, gross margins increased from 28 percent in the same quarter a year ago up to nearly 30 percent. This is significant, too, in an industry in which almost everything except the iPod and the Macintosh have become commodities.

Sales include Mac minis, which one might expect would have driven down margins, but Apple is obviously keeping a good eye on costs. And it’s likely that, like the model I recently purchased, most minis were sold in the $700 to $900 range (with options) rather than the bargain-basement $500.

Macs were responsible for about $1.49 billion of the quarter’s revenue; iPods for $1.16 billion. Market experts believe that Tiger will add a few hundred million in revenue to Apple’s coffers this quarter; one said that the initial sales essentially pay back all of Tiger’s development costs, so earnings that follow from the operating system as a separately sold item are just gravy.

The iTunes Music Store and iPod services and accessories added $216 million to revenue. The company said in a story in the Wall Street Journal that the store turned a small profit during the quarter. Apple Store revenue has apparently been quite good: Peter Cohen at MacCentral covered the live analyst call and noted that Apple’s CFO said quarterly revenue per store was $5.6 million with 9,800 people passing through each store on average each week. Apple will have 125 stores, 10 outside the US, by the end of this year.

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Apple suggests it will gross $3.24 billion in the third fiscal quarter that we’re now in, with slightly lower earnings. Apple also reported it has $7.06 billion in cash and cash equivalents. As this hoard increases, Apple is likely to put it to good use – even as a dividend to shareholders – rather than save it all as a giant rainy-day fund.

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