Apple's record day

@CNNMoneyTech July 19, 2011: 6:48 PM ET
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NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Apple is the most valuable tech company in the world, but it's growing like it's a startup.

The consumer electronics giant set record after record on Tuesday, hitting all-time highs with its quarterly profit and revenue, its stock price, and with iPhone and iPad sales.

The most surprising milestone Apple reached was the quarterly sales record for the iPhone, which many analysts believed would have a tough quarter.

Apple sold 20.3 million iPhones in its fiscal third quarter. On a conference call with Wall Street analysts, Apple's Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook said the iPhone's strong quarter can be attributed primarily to robust sales growth in emerging markets like China, Latin America, Brazil, and the Middle East.

For the first time since the smartphone's 2007 debut, Apple did not release a new iPhone in June. Wall Street experts widely believed that consumers would hold off on purchasing iPhones until the company unveiled a new version, which most expect it to do in September.

Apple didn't comment on when that new iPhone would be released, but Peter Oppenheimer, Apple's chief financial officer, spoke Tuesday about a somewhat mysterious "future product transition" that will take place during the current quarter.

The company also sold a record 9.25 million iPads in the quarter, as Apple finally found a way to bring supply more in line with demand. Expected shipping dates fell this week to within one to three days after an order is placed. The new version of the popular tablet, which went on sale in March, had at one point been shipping as much as five to six weeks after sales.

One weak spot in Apple's strong quarter was the 7.5 million iPods that the company sold, which is about 20% lower than its iPod sales last year. Last quarter marked the first time Apple's tablet has outsold its iconic MP3 player.

Some analysts were skeptical about how Apple stacked up compared to its chief competitor.

Apple sold 33 million iOS devices in quarter, including the iPod Touch, iPhone and iPad, which works out to about 367,000 devices per day. But Apple's chief iPhone and iPad rival, Google (GOOG, Fortune 500), impressed Wall Street last week when it said its Android operating system is activating 550,000 devices each day -- about 50% more than Apple.

As in the past, Apple executives hinted to analysts that Google may be artificially inflating its device activations figures -- an accusation that Google has previously denied.

"The Android activation number is a difficult one to get hands around," said Cook. "Our numbers are open, and transparent."

Apple said it sold just under 4 million Macintosh computers during the quarter. Cook said that the iPad cannibalized Macs to some degree, but it was eating into Windows PC sales to a significantly higher degree.

That was confirmed by a recent Gartner report, which said U.S. PC sales fell by nearly 6% last quarter. Yet sales of Macs grew 8.5% over the past three months, making Apple the country's third-largest PC seller.

Apple frequently touts its so-called "halo effect," in which satisfied buyers of less expensive Apple items like iPods, iPhones and iPads buy the more expensive Macs for their next PC purchases.

Microsoft (MSFT, Fortune 500), Apple's chief PC rival, is expected to report earnings on Thursday.

By the numbers

Apple more than doubled its net income during its fiscal third quarter, which ended June 30, to $7.3 billion, or $7.79 per share.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had expected earnings of $5.85 per share.

Apple's (AAPL, Fortune 500) stock price rose 5% after hours, at one point soaring above $400 for the first time. The company's shares had closed at a record high of $376.85 on Tuesday.

Sales for the Cupertino, Calif.-based company rose 82% to $28.6 billion, topping analysts' forecasts of $25 billion.

Peter Oppenheimer, Apple's chief financial officer, said he expects the company to produce sales of $25 billion and earnings per share of about $5.50 during the current quarter. As always, Apple's ultra-conservative outlook should be taken with a grain of salt. For instance, Apple beat its own fiscal third-quarter sales forecast by 24% and its profit forecast by 54%.

Analysts expect sales of $27 billion and earnings of $6.45 per share in its fiscal fourth quarter. To top of page

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