Apple sells 17M iPhones in Q4, expects an iPhone sales record in December

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) failed to meet analyst expectations when it reported quarterly revenue of just $28.27 billion and announced that it sold just 17.07 million iPhones in its fiscal fourth quarter. However, company executives said during an earnings call with investors that the company will likely set an iPhone sales record in December because of strong interest in the iPhone 4S.

iPhone and iPad shipment chart

Click here for Apple's quarterly iPhone and iPad shipments since 2007.

The company's fiscal fourth quarter earnings fell flat compared to analyst expectations for the quarter; analysts expected the company to easily top $29 billion in revenue and sell between 20 million to 22 million iPhones in the quarter. Apple shipped a record 20.3 million iPhones in its fiscal third quarter.

Nevertheless, the company did meet expectations with its iPad sales. Apple sold 11.12 million iPads in the quarter, which is about 1 million more than anticipated, and the device is now available in 90 countries. In addition, Apple's iPhone sales for the quarter do represent a 21 percent unit growth over the previous year, and the company's revenue is an increase over $20.34 billion in the same quarter in 2010.  Additionally, margins are up to 40.3 percent from 36.9 percent in the year-ago quarter. Looking ahead to the fiscal first quarter, Apple said it expects revenue of $37 billion.

During the company's earning calls, Apple executives said that the company anticipated a decline in iPhone sales after reports leaked in June that the company was going to launch a new version of the iconic device.

Despite the less-than-stellar results in the fiscal fourth quarter, Apple CEO Tim Cook said that the company expects to have record iPhone sales in the next quarter because the iPhone 4S sales are off to such a strong start, selling 4 million devices in the first weekend. "I am confident we will set an all-time record for [the] iPhone this quarter," he said, according to a SeekingAlpha transcript.

Interestingly, Cook also said China is Apple's fastest growing region, accounting for 12 percent of the company's revenue in the fiscal year that just ended. "How far can it go?" he said. "Certainly in my lifetime, I've never seen a country with as many people rising into the middle class that aspire to buy products that Apple makes. And so I think it's an area of enormous opportunity, and it has quickly become No. 2 on our list of top revenue countries very, very quickly and we're obviously placing additional investment."

For more:
- see this release
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)
- see this Bloomberg article
- see this SeekingAlpha transcript

Special Report: Wireless in the third quarter of 2011

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