Apple saw revenues rise 19 per cent year-on-year, returning a net fourth quarter profit of $44 million.

The results reflected increased shipments of both Power Macs (boosted by the launch of the Power Mac G5) and PowerBooks – unit sales of both product lines increased sharply over those in the year-ago quarter, the company said.

The company posted a net loss of $45 million in its year-ago quarter. Revenues for the current quarter were $1.75 billion, and gross margins were 26.6 per cent, also up against the 26.4 per cent return in the year-ago quarter. Apple's international sales accounted for 38 per cent of revenues. Analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call had predicted revenue of $1.66 billion.

The results include an after-tax investment gain of $6 million and a "favourable accounting transition adjustment of $3 million related to Apple's stock repurchase agreement", the company said. They also included a gain on settlement of the stock repurchase agreement of $6 million. Without these, net income would still have been $29 million.

Product shipments

The company shipped 787,000 Macs in the quarter – up seven per cent year-on-year. It also sold 336,000 iPods – a staggering 140 per cent more than it did in the year-ago quarter.

Company CEO Steve Jobs said: "It was a great new-product quarter for Apple. We launched the Power Mac G5 – the fastest personal computer in the world – new PowerBooks, and new iPods. Plus, we're delivering Panther, the next major release of Mac OS X, later this month and we'll have some exciting news regarding our music efforts on Thursday October 16."

Apple's chief financial officer, Fred Anderson, said: "We are very pleased to have exceeded our revenue and profit targets for the fourth quarter. Our balance sheet remains strong and our working capital management is among the best in the industry. Looking ahead to the first quarter of fiscal 2004, we expect a sequential increase in revenues to about $1.9 billion and a slight sequential increase in GAAP (generally accepted accounting principles) earnings relative to the September quarter."

The results were better than Apple anticipated. In July, the company said it expected a slight increase in sequential earnings and a high single-digit increase in revenue for the fiscal fourth quarter.

For the full trading year, Apple reported net income of $69 million on revenues of $6.21 billion, compared to net income of $65 million on revenues of $5.74 billion in 2002.

Looking to its next quarter, Apple said it expects a sequential increase in revenue to about $1.9 billion and a "slight sequential increase" in net earnings per share.

The company is offering a replay of its financial results announcement using QuickTime.

Apple's stock price stood at $24.82 at close of trading on Nasdaq yesterday – its highest level in 52 weeks. It fell slightly on the after-hours market, where its price stood at $23.80 last night.