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Apple Earnings Surpass Expectations

Apple reported first-quarter earnings significantly higher than analysts had expected coming off a disappointing holiday season for most tech companies, but provided its usual conservative guidance.

For the three-month period ended December 27, Apple recorded $10.2 billion in revenue, as compared with $9.6 billion a year ago, and net income of $1.6 billion, as compared with $1.58 billion a year ago. That translates into earnings per share of $1.78, far more than the $1.39 in earnings per share that analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial had expected. Expected revenue was $9.75 billion.

In a pattern familiar to Apple watchers, the company issued second-quarter guidance well below analyst expectations of $8.2 billion in revenue and earnings per share of $1.13. The company said it expects revenue between $7.6 billion and $8 billion, and earnings per share between 90 cents and $1.

It didn't seem to matter as much as in past quarters, however, as Apple's stock surged 10 percent in after-hours trading. Perhaps investors were actually expecting worse guidance based on the health of the economy, or were simply cheered that Apple appeared to skate past any worries over poor retail sales this holiday season.

Apple sold 2.5 million Macs during the quarter, 22 million iPods, and 4.3 million iPhones. The Mac shipments were about in line with expectations, the iPod shipments were significantly higher, and iPhone shipments were slightly less than estimates that ran all over the map.

Apple will hold a conference call at 2 p.m. PST to discuss its results.

By Tom Krazit

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