APPLE whose CEO Steve Jobs said on Monday he is taking a medical leave of absence, posted a 78pc jump in quarterly profit, helped by holiday buying of iPads, iPhones and Macintosh computers.
Net income in the fiscal first quarter rose to $6bn, or $6.43 a share, from $3.38bn or $3.67, a year earlier, Apple said in a statement. Analysts projected profit of $5.41 a share, the average of estimates compiled by Bloomberg.
Sales increased 71pc to a record $26.7bn in the quarter, typically Apple's strongest, after the company sold 7.33 million iPad tablet computers in the first holiday season for the device.
Jobs, 55, who has been fighting a rare form of cancer since 2004, handed over day-to-day operations to COO Tim Cook. The company is likely to fare well on his watch, said Barry Jaruzelski, a partner at Booz. "It's a well-oiled machine," said Jaruzelski. Jobs's "ethos and things he focuses on from marketing and innovation are deeply embedded in the process and people, making it an institutional capability," he said.
Analysts had predicted first-quarter sales of $24.4bn. Apple, based in Cupertino, California, fell $7.83 to$340.65 in Nasdaq Stock Market trading.
The shares rose 53pc last year. The company is the world's second-most valuable company behind Exxon Mobil.
Apple sold 16.2m iPhones, 4.13m Mac computers and 19.5m iPod media players, according to the statement.
Mike Abramsky, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets, predicted sales of 16m iPhones, 6m iPads, 18.7m iPods and 4.2m Macs.
Apple, whose potential US customer base for the iPhone will almost double by adding Verizon Wireless as a carrier next month, said profit this quarter will be $4.90 a share on sales of $22bn.
Analysts estimate Apple will have second-quarter profit of $4.47 a share on sales of $20.9bn, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.