Cupertino, Calif. — It was iPod fever that ignited explosive fiscal first quarter sales and profit at Apple Computer, with revenue climbing 74 percent and earnings more than quadrupling.
Sales for the three months, ended Dec. 25, soared to $3.5 billion, up from a year-ago $2 billion, while net income climbed to $295 million, compared with $63 million in the same period in 2003.
Apple reported gross margin of 28.5 percent in the first quarter, compared with 26.7 percent year-on-year, while international sales accounted for 41 percent of the three month’s revenue.
Unit growth of Apple’s wildly successful iPod digital music players increased 525 percent in the first quarter, rising to 4.6 million, up from a year-earlier 733,000. In the past three years, the company said it has sold about 10 million iPods. Quarterly revenue for iPods rose to $1.2 billion, an increase of 373 percent over the $256 million recorded a year ago.
Apple shipped somewhat over 1 million Macintosh computers in the first quarter, a 26 percent gain over the 829,000 units shipped in the same three months last year. This was the highest quarterly number of Macs sold in more than four years. Macintosh revenue for the quarter also increased 26 percent, reaching $1.6 billion, up from a year-earlier $1.3 billion.
The company’s iMac line led quarterly computer gains, increasing 147 percent in revenue, to $620 million, from $251 million in the same quarter in 2003. Unit gains for iMacs rose 101 percent in the first quarter, rising to 456,000, from a year-ago 227,000.
PowerBook took the biggest hit among Macintosh computers in the first quarter, with revenue decreasing 23 percent, to $307 million, from $399 million in the first quarter last year, and unit shipments dropping 26 percent, to 152,000, from 195,000 year-over-year.
Sales in the Americas climbed 77 percent in the first quarter, reaching $1.6 billion, up from a year-ago $924 million. Unit shipments in the Americas rose 26 percent, hitting 476,000, compared with 378,000 in the same period last year.
Apple’s retail stores reported revenue of $561 million in the first quarter, a 95 percent rise over the $273 million recorded year-on-year. Apple shipped 119,000 units through its retail chain, a 63 percent rise over the 73,000 shipped last year. Average store revenue rose to $5.9 million in the three months, compared with an average $4 million in the year-earlier period.