Apple earnings set new record; shares explode in after-hours trading

So much for expectations. Apple (aapl) blew past them all -- its own and those of a crowd of increasingly bullish analysts -- by reporting its most profitable quarter ever, earning $1.82 a share on revenue of $9.87 billion for the fourth fiscal quarter of 2009.

The Street was expecting quarterly earnings of $1.42 on revenue of $9.2 billion, according to Thomson Financial.

Apple's shares exploded in after-hours trading. Having closed at $189.86, shares leaped more than 13 points in the next hour and 40 minutes to $202.87 -- one thin dime away from the all-time high of $202.97 set in intraday trading on Dec. 27, 2007.

Sales for the year were a record $36.5 billion, up 12.5% from 2008. Earnings per share for the year topped $6.29, up more than 17% from the year before.

Strong sale of iPhones -- following price cuts and the introduction of a new model -- helped boost Apple's earnings.

But the big surprise was the Macintosh. Apple sold 3.05 million Macs for in Q4 -- a 17% increase from same quarter last year -- thanks to its new Snow Leopard operating system, re-energized back-to-school sales and a big order from the state of Maine.

"We are thrilled to have sold more Macs and iPhones than in any previous quarter," said Steve Jobs in a prepared statement."

Highlights from Apple's earnings report include:

<!-- more -->

  • Mac sales: 3.05 million units, up 17.3% year over year
  • iPhone sales: 7.4 million units, up 41% from last year
  • iPod sales: 10.2 million, down from just over 11 million a year ago
  • iPod touch sales were up 100% from last year
  • Gross margin: 36.3%, up from 34.7% last year
  • Cash: $34 billion, up $2.9 billion from $31.1 billion last quarter
  • Guidance for the December quarter: revenue between $11.3 and $11.6 billion, EPS between $1.70 and $1.78, gross margin 34%

Apple's press release is available here.

A replay of the conference call will be available for the next two weeks, starting at 5 p.m. PDT. The instructions are here. Seeking Alpha has published a transcript here.

See also:

[Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter @philiped]

All products and services featured are based solely on editorial selection. FORTUNE may receive compensation for some links to products and services on this website.

Quotes delayed at least 15 minutes. Market data provided by Interactive Data. ETF and Mutual Fund data provided by Morningstar, Inc. Dow Jones Terms & Conditions: S&P Index data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. Terms & Conditions. Powered and implemented by Interactive Data Managed Solutions