Apple soars over forecasts to $6bn quarterly profit

Apple delivered a record quarterly $6bn (£3.8bn) net profit for the three months to Christmas after trading in the US closed last night.

The maker of iPhones, iPads and mac computers generated its highest-ever revenues of $26.74bn and earnings per share of $6.43, nearly double the $3.67 generated in the same quarter a year earlier.

Delighted analysts upgraded their price targets today, reassured about future robust performances from the company.

"While the news of Steve Jobs' medical leave may continue to add some headwinds to the share price momentum in the near term, we continue to believe improving underlying fundamentals and the strength of Apple's overall management team will counter this uncertainty," Goldman Sachs analyst Bill Shoppe said.

The results, against a backdrop of retail profit warnings as snow in the UK and US hit pre-Christmas trading, are better than analysts had expected and

“We had a phenomenal holiday quarter with record Mac, iPhone and iPad sales,” said Apple chief executive Steve Jobs. “We are firing on all cylinders.”

Apple sold 4.13 million Macs in the quarter, up 23 per cent unit from the previous year; 16.24 million iPhones, an 86 per cent unit growth from a year earlier; and 7.33 million iPads.

It also sold 19.45 million iPods – but this registered a seven per cent unit decline from the same quarter the previous year.

International sales accounted for 62 per cent of the quarter’s revenue, it said in a statement.

The company statement did not mention Jobs’ medical leave from the firm, his second period of leave since he fought pancreatic cancer in 2008 and early 2009.

Instead, it gave a bullish outlook scenario, forecasting $22bn revenues and $4.90 earnings per share.

“We couldn’t be happier with the performance of our business, generating $9.8bn in cash flow from operations during the December quarter,” said CFO Peter Oppenheimer.