Apple Tops Wall Street Expectations for Quarter, Ships 61 Million iPhones

Apple reported $58 billion in revenue, up 27% year over year, and earnings that climbed 33%, easily beating analyst expectations for the first three months of 2015 as the tech colossus posted its best-ever financial results for the March quarter.

In the period, Apple — the biggest company in the world by market cap — sold 61.2 million iPhones, marking a record for its Q2 fiscal quarter. Apple also saw record Mac sales, with 4.6 million units shipped.

Apple reported quarterly net profit of $13.6 billion, or $2.33 per diluted share. Wall Street analysts had expected the company to post earnings per share of $2.15 on revenue of $55.9 billion for the period ended March 28.

According to the company, Apple’s growth was driven by iPhone and Mac sales, as well as an all-time record performance for the iTunes App Store. The company’s latest device — the Apple Watch — began shipping to customers last Friday after becoming available for pre-order earlier in the month, starting at $349 for the Watch Sport model.

“We’re seeing a higher rate of people switching to iPhone than we’ve experienced in previous cycles, and we’re off to an exciting start to the June quarter with the launch of Apple Watch,” Apple chief Tim Cook said in announcing the results.

The company didn’t break out sales in the quarter for Apple Watch. Cook acknowledged Apple’s inability to meet demand for the smartwatches, but said on the earnings call, “We’ve made progress over the last week or so, and we were able to deliver more customers an Apple Watch over the weekend than we had initially anticipated.” He also noted that more than 3,500 apps are already available for Apple Watch, compared with about 1,000 for iPad when the tablet launched in 2010 and 500 for the initial iPhone in 2007.

Cook also called out Apple’s recent pact with HBO to launch the standalone HBO Now streaming service earlier this month. “HBO now has been incredibly popular with Apple TV users since its debut, and it has been one of the top-downloaded apps on the U.S. App Store as well,” he said.

Separately, Apple said its board authorized a return of $200 billion of cash by the end of March 2017 to shareholders, as part of the company’s share-repurchase initiative. According to the company, from the inception of Apple’s capital-return program in August 2012 through March 2015, it will have returned more than $112 billion to shareholders, including $80 billion in share repurchases.

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