Apple Reports Record Quarterly Profit of $7.31 billion

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Some members of Apple's board have informally discussed CEO succession options with executive recruiters amid CEO Steve Jobs' continuing medical leave, according to a report.

NEW YORK - Apple on Tuesday reported fiscal third-quarter financials that handily exceeded Wall Street expectations and set new company records.

Quarterly earnings of $7.31 billion set a quarterly record for the tech firm and more than doubled compared with the $3.25 billion recorded for the same period last year.

Apple's revenue jumped 82 percent from $15.70 billion to $28.57 billion, also a company record, amid the shipment of 9.25 million iPads and 20.3 million iPhones in the latest period. iPod sales were down 20 percent, but iPhone sales rose 142 percent, and iPad sales soared 183 percent.

“We’re thrilled to deliver our best quarter ever, with revenue up 82 percent and profits up 125 percent,” CEO Steve Jobs said in a statement. “Right now, we’re very focused and excited about bringing iOS 5 and iCloud to our users this fall.” As is often the case, Jobs didn't make an appearance on Tuesday afternoon's earnings conference call.

Jobs has been on his latest medical leave since early this year, but made an appearance at the company’s Worldwide Developers Conference in June. COO Tim Cook has been handling the company's day-to-day operations as he did when Jobs took a leave in early 2009.

The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday afternoon that some members of Apple's board have informally discussed the topic of CEO succession with executive recruiters since Jobs' latest leave. But the paper said the talks weren't directly aimed at recruiting a new CEO, but were more of an exploration of options.

It wasn't immediately clear if Jobs was aware of the effort. The Journal quoted Jobs as saying via email: "I think it's hogwash." An Apple spokesman declined to comment, the Journal added.

Apple shares on Tuesday hit another all-time high of $378.65 after setting a high of $374.65 on Monday as Wall Street observers predicted strong quarterly results. The stock on Tuesday closed up 0.8 percent at $376.85 ahead of the earnings report. In after-hours, it briefly broke the $400 mark for the first time.

Apple’s market value of $348.5 billion as of Tuesday's market close, according to Bloomberg, exceeds the combined value of the six biggest entertainment conglomerates - News Corp., Sony, Time Warner, CBS, Viacom and Walt Disney - as well as cable and entertainment giant Comcast.

For its current quarter, Apple predicted revenue of $25 billion and a profit of $5.50 a share. Asked if that wasn't just the company's traditional caution, management mentioned an unspecified product transition that will affect earnings. Observers suggested the comment may refer to a new iPhone.

On Tuesday's earnings call, Cook was also asked about Apple TV: "We still call it a hobby here," he said in emphasizing that it is not "another leg of the stool" like the iPad or iPod that are key contributors to financials.


Twitter: @georgszalai