Rapper MC Hammer uses his iPhone during a town hall...

Rapper MC Hammer uses his iPhone during a town hall meeting with President Barack Obama at Facebook headquarters in Palo Alto, Calif. (April 20, 2011) Credit: AP

 Apple Inc. on Wednesday reported another exceptional quarter, nearly doubling its net income and far exceeding analyst estimates on the strength of the seemingly unstoppable iPhone.

However, sales of Apple’s big new product, the iPad tablet computer, came in below expectations. The second version of the tablet launched three weeks before the end of the quarter, and manufacturing constraints may have prevented Apple from selling more of them.

Apple said net income for its fiscal second quarter, which ended in March, was $5.99 billion, or $6.40 per share, up 95 percent from $3.07 billion, or $3.33 per share, a year ago.

Analysts polled by FactSet were expecting earnings of $5.37 per share.

Revenue was $24.7 billion, up 83 percent from $13.5 billion a year ago. Analysts were expecting $23.4 billion.

The results were lifted by the record sale of 18.65 million iPhones, millions more than analysts had expected. Verizon Wireless started selling the phone in the quarter, ending AT&T Inc.’s three-and-half-year period of being the only U.S. iPhone carrier. In most other countries where the iPhone is available, it’s sold by more than one phone company.

Earlier Wednesday, AT&T reported strong iPhone sales, as it apparently continued to upgrade many existing subscribers even in the face of competition from Verizon.

Apple shares rose $8.26, or 2.4 percent, to $350.67 in extended trading, after the release of the results. They rose 1.4 percent in regular trading.

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