Apple posts 'most profitable quarter ever,' record Mac sales

Recession or not, Apple seems to be having a terrific 2009. After reporting record earnings in April and its best non-holiday quarter in July, the Mac maker has followed up with its "most profitable quarter ever."

Apple recorded $9.87 billion revenue, $1.67 billion net profit, and a 36.6% gross margin for the fourth quarter of its 2009 fiscal year, which ended on September 26. Here's how those numbers compare to past results:

  Q4FY08 Q3FY09 Q4FY09
Revenue $7.9 billion $8.34 billion $9.87 billion
Net profit $1.14 billion $1.23 billion $1.67 billion
Gross margin 34.7% 36.3% 36.6%

As usual, Apple reminds everyone that GAAP accounting rules force it to report revenue on iPhones and Apple TVs "over their estimated economic lives." Disregarding that requirement, Apple would have reported $2.85 billion net income on $12.25 billion revenue.

Despite the generally shaky economic climate (and perhaps thanks to the latest MacBook Pro price cuts), Apple saw a whopping 17% rise in Mac unit sales compared to the same quarter a year ago. iPhone unit sales rose by 7% over the same time period, but iPod unit sales went down 8%. Hey, that iPhone growth has to come from somewhere. The shipment numbers break down like so:

  Q4FY08 Q3FY09 Q4FY09
Macs 2.61 million 2.6 million 3.05 million
iPods 11.05 million 10.2 million 10.2 million
iPhones 6.89 million 5.2 million 7.4 million

Apple CEO Steve Jobs comments in the press release, "We are thrilled to have sold more Macs and iPhones than in any previous quarter. . . . We've got a very strong lineup for the holiday season and some really great new products in the pipeline for 2010." The company expects to see $11.3-11.6 billion revenue and $1.70-1.78 billion profit this quarter.

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