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Apple reports record $6 billion profit

Apple has posted its financial results for its first fiscal quarter of 2011, which includes the end-of-year 2010 holiday season, and the figures are stunning: the company had record revenue of $26.74 billion for the quarter and earned a record $6 billion for the quarter. Year-on-year, the figures represent a 71 percent growth in revenue and a 78 percent growth in earnings, and sales of almost everything—from iPhones to iPads to the venerable Macintosh—were up. The sole unsurprising exception: iPods, which saw their sales down 7 percent compared to a year ago.

“We had a phenomenal holiday quarter with record Mac, iPhone and iPad sales,” said Apple CEO Steve Jobs, in a statement. “We are firing on all cylinders and we’ve got some exciting things in the pipeline for this year including iPhone 4 on Verizon which customers can’t wait to get their hands on.”

For the quarter—and just the quarter—Apple says it sold some 16.24 million iPhones, which represents an 86 percent increase in unit sales compared to the previous year. Apple also sold 7.33 million iPads, and iPad sales strongly eclipsed the sales of Macintosh computers, although Apple did see Mac sales increase 23 percent compared to last year, up to 4.13 million units. The Mac numbers mask a drop in sales of desktop systems: overall, sales of desktop Macs (iMacs, Mac minis, and Mac Pros) were down 1 percent year-over-year (although overall Apple made 2 percent more revenue on them), while sales of portable systems were up 37 percent. For the quarter, over 70 percent of Apple’s computer sales were notebooks.

Apple did see a bit of a dip in gross margins: a year ago, the company was operating with a 40.9 percent margin, and that declined to 38.5 percent in the most recent quarter. Some 62 percent of Apple’s revenue comes from markets outside the United States.

Apple’s record financial numbers do serve as some compensation over CEO Steve Jobs’ announcement earlier this week that he would once again be taking medical leave from the company. Apple COO TIm Cook will once again take over day-to-day management of the company while Jobs is on leave, although Jobs will retain the CEO title and continue to be involved in Apple’s strategic decisions. And Apple is continuing to sock away cash for a rainy day: the company currently has more than $60 billion in cash and short-term investments, including $9.8 billion added in this quarter alone.

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