Apple on track to be world's most valuable company after iPhone frenzy drives record profits
APPLE, the technology giant, reported record quarterly results after it smashed market expectations by selling 37 million iPhones worldwide in the last three months of 2011 - a performance dubbed "just unimaginable" by investors.
First-quarter profits more than doubled year-on-year to $13.1bn (£8.4bn), leading the company's share price to jump as much as 12pc in aftermarket trading to more than $460 (€354) per share.
At $460 a share, Apple would have a market cap of around $429bn, which would see it once again surpass oil giant Exxon to become the world's most valuable company.
Exxon had a market cap of $418bn at Tuesday's close on Wall Street, against $392bn for Apple.
Sales of Apple's hugely popluar iPhone were way above forecasts of 30m for the three month to the end of December.
Similarly, sales of iPad table computers beat analysts estimates by more than 2m units with total sales coming in at 15.4m for the first quarter, an 111pc increase year-on-year.
"Those numbers are just unimaginable. It's still an extremely well-managed company and they are showing that the product pipeline is sufficient even now to generate growth rates that are unrivaled." said Michael Obuchowski, chief investment officer at First Empire Asset Management.
Tim Cook, chief executive of Apple, said he was "thrilled" with the company's performance. "Apple's momentum is incredibly strong, and we have some amazing new products in the pipeline," he said.
Mr Cook replaced Steve Jobs as chief executive in August just months before the Apple co-founder's death in October as a result of pancreatic cancer.
The record sales of iPhones were driven by the release of the 4S model a week after Mr Jobs' death. Sales of the iPhone also benefited from strong demand over Christmas.
"Everybody else is losing market share if they compete against Apple. They are dancing to their own tune," said Brian Marshall, an analyst at ISI Group in San Francisco.
Apple controls more than 60pc of the tablet computer market, with competitors such as Samsung and Hewlett-Packard struggling to come up with devices that are able to rival the iPad.
On top of this, Mr Cook said 85m people had now signed up for Apple's recently-launched iCloud service that enables users to transfer music and other data easily between their various Apple devices.