US tech giant Apple has reported stellar earnings for the third quarter and offered a rosy forecast for the holiday shopping season, as long lines were forming at Apple stores for the company's new iPhone X.
Demonstrating remarkable strength across its growing line of products and services, Apple reported higher-than-expected earnings on Thursday, including a 12-percent increase in revenue to $52.6 billion (€45.1 billion), a profit surge of 19 percent to $10.71 billion and higher sales of its latest smartphone models of 46.7 million units.
The Cupertino, California-based company said that iPhone sales in its fiscal fourth quarter accounted for revenues of $28.85 billion - nearly 55 percent of total revenue.
"We're happy to report a very strong finish to a great fiscal 2017, with record fourth quarter revenue, year-over-year growth for all our product categories, and our best quarter ever for Services," Apple chief executive (CEO) Tim Cook said in a statement.
International sales made up 62 percent of Apples revenue in the quarter, thanks also to a return to growth in China, bringing in $9.8 billion compared with $8 billion a year ago. The double-digit unit sales increase in the Asian powerhouse was accompanied by double revenues in India.
Shares rise on upbeat forecast
Apple shares rose 4 percent in after-hours trading to hit an all-time high, with analysts lavishing praise on Cook and speculating on when Apple might become the first public company worth a trillion dollars. At the moment, Apple's market capitalization has reached about $868 billion, which already makes it the world's most valuable publicly-traded company.
"A trillion-dollar market cap may now be in Cook's sights in light of these results and guidance around iPhone X," said Daniel Ives, an analyst at GBH Insights, referring to Apple's CEO.
Just a few weeks ago, Apple appeared to be facing a rare stumble with a delay in the iPhone X launch and rumors of production problems that could limit supply.
But Apple executives on Thursday shrugged off the concerns as Chief Financial Officer Luca Maestri said the company was "quite happy" with how manufacturing of the iPhone X was progressing.
"Where the demand curve and supply curve are going to intersect, we do not know. It does not have a predecessor product," Maestri told the news agency Reuters.
Long lines from Sydney to Shanghai
Long, snaking lines formed outside Apple stores in Asia early on Friday as fans flocked to buy the new iPhone X - a turnout that contrasts with the more lackluster launches for the past two iterations of the premium smartphone.
In Australia, around 400 people queued outside Apple's flagship store in central Sydney to pay Au$1,579 ($1,218, €1044) for the 10th-anniversary model - a glass-and-stainless-steel device that Cook has billed as "the biggest leap forward since the original iPhone." With supplies potentially tight, some Australian purchasers told reporters they were already planning to sell their phones for as much as A$3,000, nearly double the original price.
In Apple's Omotesando store in Tokyo, some 550 people were waiting in a line stretching to around 600 meters (2,000 feet). And in Berlin and New York lines started to form outside Apple stores already on Thursday.
Strong initial demand underscores Apple's upbeat forecast for the year-end sales, with Tim Cook saying the company was "looking forward to a great holiday season."
uhe/jbh (Reuters, AFP, dpa)