Five Highlights From Apple's Big March Quarter

It was the company's second-best quarter ever, and Tim Cook has the iPhone and China to thank

Apple's Cook, Maestri on Earnings, Outlook in Two Minutes

Apple reported earnings on Monday for the first three months of the year, and the results were impressive. We cut through the numbers and chatter to bring you five things to know about the company's fiscal second-quarter performance.

1. The year of the sheep

Larger-screen iPhones seem to have made the perfect New Year's gift in China, where people celebrated the Spring Festival in February by exchanging presents. Apple's phone sales rose more than 70 percent in the greater China region, making it the world's largest iPhone market, Luca Maestri, chief financial officer, said in an interview.

2. Bigger than New Zealand

Apple's cash stash grew 8.9 percent from the end of December, to $194 billion, more than the 2013 gross domestic product of New Zealand. To appease such shareholders as activist investor Carl Icahn, Apple announced an increase in the size of its capital return program by $70 billion through March 2017. Part of that effort includes raising its dividend by 10.6 percent to $2.08, making it the largest source of dividends in the Standard & Poor's 500 index.

3. Second-best quarter ever for Apple

Apple's profit during the first six months of its fiscal year totaled $31.6 billion. That's more than the $29.3 billion market value of Tesla Motors.

4. More watches are coming

There isn't enough inventory of the new Apple Watch, which won't ship until June for some customers. Apple is rushing to produce more, hoping to have enough for everybody who wants one by the end of June. That's also when the company plans to release the watch in additional countries.

5. The iPhone is eating the iPad for lunch

Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook admitted that the iPhone is cannibalizing iPad sales, which fell 23 percent compared with the same period last year. Some relief could come in the form of a 12.9-inch iPad, which is expected to begin production later this year.

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