Apple Profits Surge 88%

SAN FRANCISCO ~ Apple reported its profits surged 88 percent in the recent quarter on thriving sales of iPod music players and Macintosh computers.

Apple said its profits in the quarter ending March 31 amounted to US$770 million, or 87 cents per share, compared to $410 million, or 47 cents per share, in the same quarter in 2006.

“We are very pleased to report the most profitable March quarter in Apple’s history,” said chief financial officer Peter Oppenheimer.

Apple stock price climbed more than six percent to $101.50 in trading that followed the release of the earnings figures after the market’s closing bell.

Apple shipped 1,517,000 Macintosh computers and 10,549,000 iPods during the first three months of this year, which represented a 36-percent rise in computer sales and a 24-percent increase in iPod sales from the same period in 2006.

The California-based company posted $5.26 billion in revenues for the quarter, with international sales accounting for 43 percent of the total.

“The Mac is clearly gaining market share, with sales growing 36 percent – more than three times the industry growth rate,” said chief executive Steve Jobs.

“We’re very excited about the upcoming launch of iPhone in late June, and are also hard at work on some other amazing new products in our pipeline.”

Before the earnings report’s release, Apple’s board of directors voiced their support for Jobs after an embattled former employee implicated Jobs in a stock-option scandal.

“We have complete confidence in the conclusions of Apple’s independent investigation, and in Steve’s integrity and his ability to lead Apple,” board members, including former US vice president Al Gore, said in a statement.

On Tuesday, Apple’s former chief financial officer Fred Anderson settled civil charges stemming from stock-option backdating and said he warned Jobs about potential accounting problems related to the executive awards.

Jobs cooperated fully with investigations by Apple and regulators at the US Securities and Exchange Commission into whether stock option grant dates were altered without proper financial reporting, according to the board.

“The SEC investigated the matter thoroughly and its complaint speaks for itself, in terms of what it says, what it does not say, who it charges and who it does not charge,” board members said in the statement.

The claim about Jobs’ knowledge of the scheme came as Anderson and Apple’s former top lawyer were charged in a civil suit by US federal regulators with participating in fraud related to multimillion dollar Apple stock-option awards.

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