Apple Europe's sales were boosted by Christmas holiday sales of iBook laptops, according to Pascal Cagni, Apple's vice president of Europe.

Cagni said that Christmas sales in Europe were "equivalent to or better than" last year's. However, he added: "We didn’t see the classic spike in sales that we usually have for Christmas."

He predicted that the launch of the new iMac should see sales increase this financial year after its 25 to 30 per cent slump last year. Europe accounts for a quarter of Apple's business, he added.

According to Apple's annual report filed last year with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Apple’s net sales decreased $2.6 billion - or 33 per cent - during 2001 compared to 2000, while Macintosh unit sales dropped 32 per cent from 2000.

However, with $4.336 billion in the bank, Apple ended 2001 with $309 million more cash than it started the year with.