IPad, iPhone shipments drive Apple's Q4 profits

Apple on Monday reported a rise in revenue and profits for its fourth fiscal quarter of 2010 behind strong iPad and iPhone sales.

Shipments of the iPad totaled 4.19 million units during the fourth quarter, topping the 3.27 million units that shipped by the third quarter. The company started selling the iPad tablet in April, and its success has led to the birth of a new computing segment that competing device makers are now scrambling to enter.

Apple reported revenue of $20.34 billion for the quarter that ended on Sept. 25, up from the $12.21 billion in revenue during the fourth quarter last year. The consensus expectation from analysts polled by Thomson Reuters was of $18.9 billion.

The company expects revenue of about $23 billion during the first fiscal quarter of 2011.

The company reported net profit of $4.31 billion for the fourth quarter, rising from the net profit of $2.53 billion reported in the year-ago quarter. The company reported earnings per share of $4.64 during the quarter, while analysts expected earnings per share of $4.08.

The iPad could turn into a big cash cow for Apple. In a study released on Friday, research firm Gartner projected worldwide media tablet sales to reach 19.5 million units this year, growing to 54.8 million next year. Analysts last week also said that growing demand for tablets like the iPad would continue to eat into the sales of computing devices like netbooks.

That company also seems to have put behind it any nagging issues surrounding the iPhone 4's signal reception after the device started shipping in June. Shipments of the iPhone totaled 14.1 million units in the quarter, a 91% year-over-year growth.

"IPhone sales ... handily [beat] the 12.1 million phones [Research In Motion] sold in their most recent quarter. We still have a few surprises left for the remainder of this calendar year," Apple CEO Steve Jobs said in a statement.

Apple also saw gains in Mac shipments, which grew by 27% to reach 3.89 million units during the quarter. IPod shipments declined by 11% to reach 9.05 million. The company this quarter introduced new iPods, including Touch and Nano models.

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