Apple has edged tantalisingly close to a $1 trillion valuation today as the technology giant's quarterly earnings blew away expectations, pushing its share price to a new high in after-hours trading.
In the fourth quarter, Apple's revenue rose 12 per cent to $52.6bn (£40.3bn) while the company's net income increased to $10.7bn, or $2.07 per share, in the quarter, from $9bn or $1.67 per share, the previous year.
Analysts had expected total revenue of $50.7bn, according to Thomson Reuters.
The company sold 46.7m iPhones, beating analysts' estimates of 46.4m, according to FactSet, and generating $28.9bn in revenue, which accounted for more than half of the company's total revenue.
Sales of Mac computers rose 25 per cent to $7.17bn, while iPad sales lifted 14 per cent to $4.8bn.
Apple was also boosted by a 12 per cent increase in sales in China, the first gain in the region in six quarters. The long-awaited return to growth saw Apple make sales of $9.8bn compared with $8bn in 2016.
The company’s share price rose more than three per cent in after-hours trading to top $174, briefly rising above a market capitalisation of $900bn for the first time ever.
Chief executive Tim Cook said the company made a "very strong finish to a great fiscal 2017".
“With fantastic new products including iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus... we’re looking forward to a great holiday season, and with the launch of iPhone X getting underway right now, we couldn’t be more excited as we begin to deliver our vision for the future with this stunning device," he said.
Investors had feared production delays for the hotly anticipated iPhone X would take a bite out of Apple's forecast for the holiday shopping quarter, but the company beat expectations there too. Apple expects fiscal first-quarter revenue of $84bn to $87bn, while analysts set a target of $84.2bn, according to Thomson Reuters.
The £1,000 iPhone X launches tomorrow, and Cook said orders, which started last week, had been "very strong".
“Despite the usual doom and gloom, Apple may become the world’s first $1 trillion business," said Norm Johnston, global chief digital officer at WPP's Mindshare.
“All eyes were on the iPhoneX, and despite some negative buzz, Apple delivered.
“The big question in 2019 will be how Apple diversifies its product portfolio so it’s not so dependent on future iPhones.
“Whether Apple Cars or Apple Glasses, Tim Cook’s broader ambitions in other connected devices and services will need to emerge and gain momentum in 2018.”