Apple posts most-profitable quarter ever

Sales of company's iPhones doubled during holiday season

Defying a weak economy that has decimated the bottom line of countless other companies, Apple has reported its most profitable quarter in history.

The company behind iTunes, iPod and iPhone as well as the Mac computer and Apple TV said that it earned $3.4 billion in its fiscal first year, up 48% from a year ago. Revenue climbed 32% to $15.7 billion.

"If you annualize our quarterly revenue, it's surprising that Apple is now a $50 billion-plus company," CEO Steve Jobs said. As is customary, Jobs did not take place in Apple's conference call Monday.

Although sales of iPods fell 8% to 21 million units during the Christmas quarter, iPhone units about doubled to 8.7 million.

Apple also is unveiling a "major new product" on Wednesday, according to Jobs, but executives on Monday's call did not give any hints as to what that product is; analysts are predicting some sort of tablet computer.

Apple notched big sales gains in Japan, Europe and other parts of the world, causing international sales to make up 60% of Apple's revenue during the quarter.

While falling short of Wall Street's expected 9 million in iPhone sales, Apple made up for it by posting a 40.9% gross margin, up from 37.9% a year ago.

Apple shares rose 3% to $203.07 during the regular session Monday and an additional 1% in after-hours trading once the quarterly results were revealed.

Apple opened 10 new stores in the quarter and said it would open as many as 50 this fiscal year, with about half of those in international locations.