iPod at core of Apple's Q1 gains

Record $1 bil fiscal profit is up 78% from a year ago

Apple Inc. shipped 21.1 million iPods in its first fiscal quarter, 50% more than in the same quarter a year ago, a primary factor in the company's Wednesday posting of a record $1 billion quarterly profit, 78% better than last year.

Apple, which recently dropped "computer" from its corporate moniker, shipped 1.6 million Macs during the quarter, 28% more than a year ago.

Revenue increased 24.5% year-over-year to $7.1 billion, with $3.4 billion coming from iPod sales. Other music-related revenue, including sales at Apple's online iTunes store, totaled $634 million.

Chief financial officer Peter Oppenheimer said the iTunes store now features 4 million songs, 350 television titles and 250 film titles, and he called demand for the iPod during the holiday season "extraordinary."

The iPod had a 72% share of the market of digital music players in December, research firm NPD said, and the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry said Wednesday that digital music sales doubled last year to about $2 billion, or about 10% of all sales.

Oppenheimer said sales of Apple gift cards doubled year-over-year, and the company ended the quarter with $11.9 billion in cash.

The company managed to beat Wall Street expectations on most fronts — revenue, earnings and earnings per share. Nevertheless, the stock fell 2.2% during regular trading and, after an initial $4-per-share surge after-hours when earnings were released, the stock continued its fall.

One issue dogging the stock has been the company's acknowledgment that it had backdated some stock-option grants. On a conference call Wednesday, Oppenheimer mostly deflected questions about the matter, saying not much more than that Apple was "voluntarily and proactively" cooperating with federal officials looking into the matter.

Also, Apple guided for up to $4.9 billion in revenue for its fiscal second quarter, while analysts were looking for about $5.2 billion.

Apple ended the quarter with 170 stores, including five added during the quarter, and Oppenheimer said 28 million people visited the stores in the quarter.

Apple this year expects to be selling from those stores, as well as other outlets, its iPhone and Apple TV set-top box.

"We've just kicked off what is going to be a very strong new product year for Apple by launching Apple TV and the revolutionary iPhone," CEO Steve Jobs said in a statement. He was not on the conference call.