The iPod once again helped carry Apple through another strong quarter

The surging popularity of the iPod MP3 player and Mac computer helped Apple post a record-breaking $1 billion profit for the fiscal quarter, well ahead of Wall Street expectations, in the three months that ended Dec. 30.  The recently released profit figure represented a 78 percent increase over last year's fourth-quarter earnings for the company. 

The company posted $1.14 per share earnings for the quarter, but analysts predicted earnings more along the lines of 78 cents a share.    

The holiday shopping season helped Apple ship more than 21 million iPods and 1.6 million Macs, which is a 50% growth in iPods sales and 28% growth in Macs compared to the first quarter of 2006.  Selling notebook computers with Intel processors helped rejuvenate what some analysts considered to be a floundering notebook lineup.  Apple retail stores also had a good quarter, selling 308,000 Macs, which is up 60 percent compared to one year ago.

Apple has been doing good work the past four years for investors, as the iPod helped bring the company back to life.  The company's new emphasis on selling to individual customers over corporations has also helped, analysts speculated. 

However, 2007 is a critical year for the company.  Apple's stock does in the next two quarters will rely on the success (or failure) of the iPhone and the outcome stock options backdating scandal.

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