iPhone, Mac sales help Apple profits soar

Strong sales of iPhones and Mac computers helped Apple’s profits surge 95 per cent in the March quarter, but the company said it was struggling to produce enough of its latest version of the iPad to meet demand.

The Silicon Valley company said on Wednesday that it earned $5.99bn in the quarter, blowing past Wall Street estimates. Revenue rose 83 per cent to $24.7bn.

Shipments of the iPhone were helped by the addition of Verizon Wireless, the second-biggest US carrier. Mac sales rose 28 per cent even as the PC market contracted.

But iPad shipments fell to 4.7m units from 7.3m in the preceding three months, coming in well short of estimates due to production bottlenecks. Apple executives said some customers held off purchases of the first-generation model in anticipation of a revamp.

The iPad 2 went on sale in the US on March 11, followed by a rollout in other countries on March 25, a day before the books closed on the quarter. Buyers are still being turned away at many stores, however, as Apple has been unable to deliver the tablet computers at the same clip following the change in specifications.

“The iPad 2 is the mother of all backlogs,” Tim Cook, Apple chief operating officer, said on a conference call with analysts.

Mr Cook said production would ramp up in the coming months and went out of his way to reassure investors on other points.

He said the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear and power issues in Japan would depress sales by only about $200m in the current quarter. The company did not expect any material revenue or supply-chain impact unless problems in Japan got worse. Japanese facilities contribute hundreds of items to Apple’s products, including optical drives, LCD screens and resins, but contingency plans have kept the supplies coming.

Mr Cook said he did not believe that a lawsuit Apple filed Friday against Samsung Electronics, over alleged patent and trademark infringement, would stop another arm of Samsung from supplying Apple with processors and memory.

“Samsung is a very valued supplier. I expect the strong relationship will continue”, he said.

Mr Cook also said that Apple chief executive Steve Jobs remained involved in major decisions at the company he founded and that he still hoped to return to full-time status there. “We do see him on a regular basis,” he said.

Apple shares rose close to 4 per cent in after-hours trading following the earnings report.

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