Apple beats Wall Street target, shares climb

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Apple Inc., maker of the iPhone and iPad, reported third-quarter profit and sales that beat analysts' estimates, spurring optimism that the company is weathering an attack from low-end smartphone competition.

Apple's $6.9-billion profit slid 22 percent from a year earlier as margins were pressured by growing competition.

But its earnings of $7.47 a share in the period, which ended June 29, beat the $7.30 average estimate from analysts compiled by Bloomberg. Sales rose to $35.3 billion, topping the expected estimate of $35 billion.

Apple shares rose as much as 4.7 percent to $438.88 in after-hours trading after the results were released. Even after a stock decline this year, the company has a higher market valuation than any other technology business.

The results bolstered the view that Apple can withstand increased competition and saturation in the smartphone market, which have threatened to drag the company into a prolonged slump.

The company sold 31.2 million units of the iPhone, its best-selling and most profitable product. Analysts had estimated 26.1 million on average.

Sales of the iPad fell 14 percent from the prior year to 14.6 million.

-- Combined Wire Services

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