Apple bites off huge Q1 gains

Tech company sees revenues rise 71% during holiday quarter to $26.7 billion, profit up 78% to $6 billion; iPhone sales up 86%, iPad sells 7.33 million.

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On Monday, Apple took advantage of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday day, when US stock markets are closed, to announce a medical leave for Steve Jobs, a leader often seen as intrinsic to the Cupertino, California, company's ongoing success. Today, Apple continued to evidence that success, announcing record results for its first fiscal quarter of 2011, which ended December 25, 2010.

Apple's iPhone 4 was a big winner during the holidays.
Apple's iPhone 4 was a big winner during the holidays.

For the three-month period, Apple reported record-setting revenues of $26.74 billion, up 71 percent from its holiday quarter a year ago. Profit rose a slightly more impressive 78 percent to $6 billion--or $6.43 per diluted share--during the period. Both results easily bested Wall Street's forecast, according to Reuters, which stood at revenues of $24.4 billion and earnings per share of $5.40.

Apple's iOS platforms continued to rule the day for the software and electronics company. The company sold 16.24 million iPhones between October 26 and December 25, an 86 percent increase from the same period a year ago. iPod sales rose 7 percent during the period to 19.45 million, while Mac computer sales climbed 23 percent to 4.13 million units sold. The iPad, which first went on sale in April 2010, sold 7.33 million units during the quarter.

Though the company's share price took a hit in trading today following Jobs' decision to take an indefinite leave of absence due to his ongoing fight with pancreatic cancer, falling 2.25 percent to $340.65, Apple has since rebounded in after-hours trading. The stock is currently trading up 1.5 percent to about $346.

Commenting on Jobs' role within the company, Kaufman Bros analyst Shaw Wu told Reuters that Jobs' role is "important but at the same time, as the company continues to execute, it becomes more secondary. The way Steve thinks, his methodology, his sense of style: frankly, a lot of it has been ingrained into the Apple culture."

Apple certainly has continued opportunity in its future. Last week, the company officially announced a deal with Verizon to bring the iPhone to the popular cell phone carrier, ending the device's AT&T exclusivity. The Verizon iPhone will be available beginning Thursday, February 10, in two versions: a $200 16GB model and a $300 32GB model. Both models will be black, with white versions to follow in the coming months.

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