Apple Gets 4Q Lift, But Options Restatements Loom

The Cupertino, Calif.-based company turned in earnings of $546 million, or 62 cents per share, on revenue of $4.84 billion. The average analyst estimate as measured by Thomson Financial was for a profit of 63 cents per share and revenue of $4.66 billion.

In the same quarter a year earlier, Apple reported sales of $3.7 billion and earnings of $430 million.

Apple said it shipped more than 1.6 million Macintosh computers during the quarter and more than 8.7 million iPods.

"This strong quarter caps an extraordinary year for Apple," Apple CEO Steve Jobs said in a statement. "Selling more than 39 million iPods and 5.3 million Macs [during the past year] while performing an incredibly complex architecture transition is something we are all very proud of."

Sponsored post

Earlier this month, Apple announced that an independent, internal review had uncovered discrepancies in some stock-option grants from 1997 to 2002 and that the company likely would need to restate prior years' financial results.

In its press release on third-quarter results, Apple said the options discrepancies may have a ripple effect on other earnings periods, including the one reported Wednesday.

In a conference call with financial analysts after the earnings were released, Apple executives specifically cited robust sales of Mac-based systems as a key growth driver for the company. Macintosh-related sales comprised 58 percent of Apple's revenue for the quarter.

"We saw the best Mac shipments by far for any quarter," said Peter Oppenheimer, Apple's chief financial officer. "Our September-quarter Mac shipments were 30 percent over the prior year," Oppenheimer said. "We believe this growth rate is particularly remarkable given the comparisons for the prior year's September quarter."

In August, Apple announced new, Intel-based Macbook Pro systems — making the transition of its entire Mac product line to the Intel processing platform in nine months. Oppenheimer also noted that there are more than 4,000 Macintosh-based applications now that can run on Intel-based systems, and that they expect that about 80 percent of the top, 500 Mac-platform applications would be ported to the Intel platform by year's end.

Apple executives also said that during the most recent quarter, Mac-based channel inventory dropped below previous four-to-five week levels and would become more favorable by year's end.