Apple has its ‘most successful year ever’

Shares in the company edged up slightly in after-hours trading, after it beat analysts’ expectations for fourth-quarter revenue and earnings and reported strong sales for its Apple watch and “all time record” sales of its Mac computers, reports The Times.

Tim Cook, the company’s chief executive, said that it had had its “most successful year ever” in 2015 with full-year revenue growing by 28 per cent to nearly $234 billion. Earnings increased by 35 per cent to $53.4 billion. For the fourth quarter, net income rose 31 per cent to $11.12 billion, while revenue rose by 22 per cent to $51.5 billion. Apple took an 8 per cent hit to earnings from currency headwinds.

“We are heading into the holidays with our strongest product line-up yet, including iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, Apple Watch with an expanded line-up of cases and bands, the new iPad Pro and the all-new Apple TV which begins shipping this week,” Mr Cook said.

Sales in China rose to $12.5 billion for the quarter, a 99 per cent increase on the same period last year, and unit sales of iPhones rose 120 per cent.

However, revenue growth in China was 5 per cent lower than the previous quarter’s figure, amid slowing growth in the Chinese economy. With Apple depending on China increasingly for sales growth, this is a key metric for Mr Cook. Apple plans to have 40 stores open there by the middle of next year, up from 25 in the third quarter.

Quarterly sales of the iPhone, as usual the biggest driver of growth, rose by 22 per cent to 48 million devices, slightly below analysts’ forecasts for 48.72 million.

Apple started selling its latest iPhone 6 models on September 25, so the results include only two days of sales. Mr Cook said that demand for the latest version of the phone was outstripping supply, but that the company was getting better at ramping up production.

Quarterly sales of iPads fell by 20 per cent on the year to 9.9 million devices, while Mac computer sales rose by 3 per cent to a quarterly record of 5.7 million units.

The company does not break out sales of the Apple Watch, but said that sales of “other products”, including the watch, its Beats headphones products and iPods, rose 61 per cent to $3 billion.

For the first three months of its 2016 financial year, Apple said that it expected revenue of $75.5 billion to $77.5 billion. Analysts had been forecasting more than $77 billion.

Brian Colello, an analyst at Morningstar, said that, while the forecast was below expectations, investors had been expecting it to be worse. The shares edged up in after-hours trading to $115, having closed down 0.6 per cent at $114.55.