Apple opens with a bang after Q1 profit

Shares of Apple Inc. leapt higher on Wednesday, a day after posting powerful results for its financial first quarter.

Apple shares were up $28.07, or 6.68 percent, to $448.48, by 10 a.m. That put Apple's market value at $417.35 billion, up from $391.9 billion at the end of regular trading Tuesday. Those numbers restore Apple's position as the most valuable company in the world, again pulling ahead of Exxon Mobil Corp., which it first surpassed last summer.

On Tuesday, Apple said net income in the fiscal first quarter, which ended Dec. 31, was $13.06 billion, or $13.87 per share. That was up 118 percent from $6 billion, or $6.43 per share, for the same quarter of fiscal 2011.

Analysts polled by FactSet had predicted earnings of $10.04 per share for the quarter.

Revenue was $46.33 billion, up 73 percent from a year ago. Analysts were expecting $38.9 billion.

iPhones played a pivotal role in the quarterly results. Apple said it sold 37 million of the mobile phones in the last three months of 2011, blazing past analyst projections.

The phone accounted for 53 percent of Apple's revenue in the quarter and more than doubled over last year.

The sales mean Apple is set to regain the position it briefly held earlier last year of being the world's largest maker of smartphones. Nokia Corp., the earlier No. 1, is in transition to a new generation of smartphones. More recent competitor Samsung Electronics Co. has announced a preliminary figure of 35 million smartphones sold in the October to December period.

October saw Apple launching the iPhone 4S in the U.S. and some other countries. The phone was delayed for a few months, which meant that Apple's results for the July to September quarter were uncharacteristically tepid.

Apple shipped 15.4 million iPads in fiscal Q1, again more than doubling sales over the same quarter last year. The November launch of Inc.'s $199 Kindle Fire tablet didn't appear to put much of a dent in the iPad's sales, despite some analysts' predictions that it might.

Chief Financial Officer Peter Oppenheimer said the company expects earnings of $8.50 per share in the current quarter, and sales of $32.5 billion. Both figures are above the average estimate of analysts polled by FactSet, even though Apple usually low-balls its estimates.

The Cupertino, Calif., company ended the quarter with a $97.6 billion cash balance.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.