New accounting rules push Apple's revenue to $15.7B

Surprise, surprise: Apple has enjoyed another good quarter. For the three months ended December 26, 2009, the Mac maker recorded revenue of $15.7 billion and net income of $3.4 billion.

Those look like massive increases over past results at first glance, but Apple has actually started using "amended guidelines" from the Financial Accounting Standard Board. The new guidelines change how the firm accounts for sales of items with subscriptions, like iPhones and Apple TVs. Beforehand, Apple had to spread out revenue from those items "over their estimated economic lives" (something it made a point to mention in every financial statement). Now, that doesn't seem to be a requirement.

Yesterday's press release conveniently includes figures for the first quarter of Apple's previous fiscal year computed using the new rules, so we can contrast and compare. There's no such data for the fourth quarter. However, Apple did provide, for reference only, Q4FY09 numbers not compliant with the subscription accounting rule in its October 19 statement. We've included those numbers below followed by an asterisk.

  Q1FY09 Q4FY09 Q1FY10
Revenue $11.88 billion  $12.25 billion* $15.68 billion
Net profit $2.26 billion  $2.85 billion* $3.38 billion
Gross margin 37.9%  N/A 40.9%

Thankfully, Apple hasn't changed how it accounts for products shipments—to our knowledge, at least. Mac and iPhone sales were particularly strong, but iPods shed some of their popularity:

  Q1FY09 Q4FY09 Q1FY10
Macs 2.52 million 3.05 million 3.36 million
iPods 22.7 million 10.2 million 21 million
iPhones 4.4 million 7.4 million 8.7 million

Looking forward to the second quarter of its 2010 fiscal year (which corresponds loosely to the first calendar quarter), Apple expects its revenue to dip to $11-11.4 billion.

The press release also includes another teaser for that January 27 press event, in the form of a statement from CEO Steve Jobs: "The new products we are planning to release this year are very strong, starting this week with a major new product that we're really excited about." iSlate, anyone?

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