Apple Inc. (AAPL)’s stock jumped to its highest price ever, after record sales of iPhones and iPads helped third-quarter profit blow past estimates.
Net income in the period more than doubled to $7.31 billion, or $7.79 a share, from $3.25 billion, or $3.51, a year earlier, Apple said yesterday in a statement. Sales climbed 82 percent to $28.6 billion. Analysts had predicted profit of $5.87 a share and revenue of $25 billion, according to Bloomberg data.
IPhone sales were buoyed by international demand, particularly in China, where total revenue jumped sixfold to $3.8 billion. After overcoming supply shortages for the iPad 2 following its March debut, Apple saw sales of the tablet soar. The device is now its second-biggest revenue source -- behind the iPhone -- less than two years after first being introduced.
“They have the wind at their backs in a big way, and it’s being reflected in these numbers,” said Ryan Jacob, an Apple investor at Jacob Asset Management. “They have a unique ability to increase market share and introduce new products.”
Apple shares jumped 2.7 percent to $386.90 on the Nasdaq Stock Market. The stock is up 20 percent this year.
The report eased investors’ concerns that sales would suffer from the lack of a new iPhone, which isn’t expected until September. The Cupertino, California-based company also has been operating without the day-to-day attention of Chief Executive Officer Steve Jobs, who has been on medical leave since January.
“Apple is a juggernaut and they prove it every quarter,” said Mike Binger, an Apple investor at Thrivent Asset Management in Appleton, Wisconsin, which has about $70 billion under management.
Apple’s expansion into China and other fast-growing economies helped make up for slower growth in the U.S. Sales in China, Taiwan and Hong Kong have totaled $8.8 billion in the first three quarters of the fiscal year, Apple said.
“China was very key to our results,” said Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook, who is handling day-to-day leadership during Jobs’s medical leave. “This has been a substantial opportunity for Apple, and I firmly believe that we’re just scratching the surface right now.”
Apple sold 20.3 million iPhones and 9.3 million iPads in the third quarter, which ended June 25. Mac computer sales were 3.95 million, short of a record.
The company said profit in the fourth quarter would be about $5.50 a share on sales of $25 billion. Analysts on average predict $6.41 a share on sales of $27.7 billion for that period, which ends in September.
Apple typically gives a lowball forecast, making it less relevant to investors. The company had previously beaten the average earning projection for at least 29 straight quarters, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
“The forecast is meaningless,” said Thrivent’s Binger.
In the third quarter, gross profit margin, the percentage of sales left after deducting production costs, was 41.7 percent, compared with 39.1 percent a year earlier.
Since Jobs went on leave, some members of Apple’s board have discussed CEO succession with executive recruiters, the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday, citing unnamed people familiar with the matter. The talks included at least one head of a high-profile technology company, the Journal said.
The health of Jobs, who has struggled with a rare form of cancer, is the only major concern for Apple, said Erick Maronak, chief investment officer of Victory Capital Management Inc. in New York, which has about $2.5 billion under management.
“In the end, it’s really all going to circle back to Jobs -- his health, his role,” Maronak said. Apple is his firm’s largest holding, accounting for about 5 percent, he said.
Jobs’s health wasn’t discussed on Apple’s conference call yesterday, and no analysts inquired about it.
Apple is expanding its retail operations by opening 30 locations in the September period, including in Hong Kong. The chain of stores generated $3.5 billion last quarter.
The results reinforced the idea that tablets are taking sales from traditional personal computers. Apple said 86 percent of Fortune 500 companies are testing or deploying the iPad, and that sales of the tablet topped those of the Mac computer among primary and secondary schools.
“We sold every iPad we could make,” Peter Oppenheimer, the company’s chief financial officer, said on the call.
Apple also discussed its patent disputes, which involve rivals such as Samsung Electronics Co. and HTC Corp. (2498)
“We have a very simple view here, and that view is we love competition,” Cook said. “We think it’s great for us and for everyone. But we want people to invent their own self, and we’re going to make sure that we defend our portfolio.”
The iPod, meanwhile, fell short of projections. Apple sold 7.54 million units of the media player last quarter, compared with the 8.5 million predicted by analysts. That product is the oldest of Apple’s main mobile devices and faces cannibalization from the iPhone and iPad, which also can play music.
It was the first time since 2008 that the third-quarter results didn’t include the release of a new iPhone. The new model slated for September has a faster chip for processing data and an 8-megapixel camera, two people familiar with the matter said last month.
The company also is introducing a new Mac operating system called OS X Lion today, available as a download from the Mac App Store for $29.99. A version of the MacBook Air using that software will be in stores tomorrow, priced at $999 and higher, Apple said today. An updated model of the Mac Mini will also be in stores tomorrow, at a starting price of $599.
Later this year, it will release its iCloud service, which let users store, synchronize and access music, pictures and documents from different Apple devices.
“We are extremely pleased with the momentum of our business,” Oppenheimer said.