Apple first-quarter 2010 earnings soared past Wall Street expectations Monday, with the company reporting a profit of $3.37 billion, or $3.74 per share.
That's up 50 percent from the same quarter a year ago, when profits reached $2.26 billion, or $2.54 per share.
Revenue for the quarter was $15.6 billion, up 32 percent from the same quarter a year ago. Wall Street was expecting between $11.21 billion and $12.6 billion in revenue on earnings of $2.07 per share. And Apple always gives an overly conservative estimate; last quarter, Apple said it was anticipating earnings between $1.70 per share and $1.78 per share, and revenue of between $11.3 billion and $11.6 billion.
In short, it was Apple's best quarter in company history. One of the reasons the numbers were so far ahead of what many had been anticipating is the company's decision to adopt the new accounting principles laid out by the Financial Accounting Standards Board last fall for the first quarter of 2010, which ended on December 26, 2009. That means that revenue from the iPhone and Apple TV can be recognized the same quarter that the sales are made, rather than over a two-year period, as had previously been Apple's practice.
As with the previous two quarters, there was good news on the Mac and iPhone fronts, with iPod sales lagging once again. Apple sold 3.36 million Macs, up 33 percent from a year ago, 8.7 million iPhones, a 100 percent gain over the last year, and 21 million iPods, 8 percent fewer.
In a statement, Apple CEO Steve Jobs called it "surprising" that Apple is now a $50 billion company, and he hinted at Wednesday's event, saying there will be a "major new product that we're really excited about." It's widely assumed that the new product will be a tablet computer.