Apple dealing with ‘the mother of all backlogs’

A healthy dose of good news were mixed in with a few worries this week, as Apple reported that it had nearly doubled its quarterly net profit on record iPhone sales but iPad sales dipped, and the company is dealing with the “mother of all backlogs” in meeting demand for the tablet computer.

Apple said Wednesday that net profit rose 95 percent in the second quarter of its fiscal year to US$5.99 billion while revenue rose 83 percent to US$24.67 billion, beating the expectations of Wall Street analysts.

Earnings per share were US$6.40, up from US$3.30 a year ago.

The Cupertino, California-based gadget-maker said it sold 18.65-million iPhones during the quarter, up 113 percent over a year ago and helped by the addition of a second US carrier, Verizon.

Apple sold 4.69-million iPads during the quarter which ended on March 26, down from 7.33-million sold during the first quarter of its fiscal year and less than expected by analysts.

Apple sold 3.76-million Macintosh computers, up 28 percent from a year ago, and 9.02-million iPods, a 17 percent unit decline from a year ago.

In a statement, Apple chief executive Steve Jobs said the company was “firing on all cylinders” and “will continue to innovate on all fronts throughout the remainder of the year.”

Jobs did not participate in the traditional conference call with financial analysts, but Apple chief operating officer Tim Cook, who has taken over in his absence, said Jobs remains involved in major corporate decisions.

“He is still on medical leave but we do see him on a regular basis,” Cook said. “And as we’ve previously said he continues to be involved in major strategic decisions.

“I know he wants to be back full-time as soon as he can,” he said.

Jobs, 56, went on medical leave in January, his third since 2004, but has retained his title of chief executive at Apple.

Jobs underwent an operation for pancreatic cancer in 2004 and received a liver transplant in 2009, but Apple has not released any details about his latest health issues.

Cook said the earthquake and tsunami in Japan did not have a major impact on Apple in the quarter but the situation remains uncertain and it could have an impact of around US$200 million on Apple’s revenues in the current quarter.

Apple sources hundreds of the components for its devices from Japan.

While iPad sales were disappointing compared to the forecasts of analysts, Cook said demand for the latest model, the iPad 2, has been “staggering.”

“We sold every iPad 2 that we could make during the quarter,” he said. “I wish we could have produced a lot more iPad 2’s because there were a lot of people waiting for them.

“The iPad has the mother of all backlogs but we’re working very, very hard to get it out to customers as quickly as we can,” he said.

Apple chief financial officer Peter Oppenheimer said he expected revenue of around $23 billion and earnings per share of about US$5.03 in the current quarter.

Apple shares rose 4.01 percent to US$356.15 in after-hours trading.



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