Apple posts record revenue of $15.7 billion on record sales of 3.47 million Macs and strong iPhone and iPad sales

After continually besting analyst estimates quarter after quarter, we've come to expect Apple to deliver blowout earnings on a regular basis - and Tuesday was no different.

After continually besting analyst estimates quarter after quarter, we've come to expect Apple to deliver blowout earnings on a regular basis - and Tuesday was no different.

Apple's earnings report for the third fiscal quarter of 2010 not only demolished analyst expectations, but set new records in a number of metrics. During the quarter gone by, Apple recorded revenue of $15.7 billion and earnings per share of $3.51. The folks on Wall Street, meanwhile, expected revenue of $14.75 billion and earnings per share of $3.11.

But Wall Street isn't about what you do in one particular quarter, it's about whether or not a company is growing from one quarter to the next. And in that respect, Apple's earnings report is nothing short of jaw dropping.

During the same quarter a year-ago, Apple posted earnings of $2.01 a share on revenue of $9.73 billion. All told, Apple's profits over the past year surged an almost unheard of 77%.

“It was a phenomenal quarter that exceeded our expectations all around, including the most successful product launch in Apple’s history with iPhone 4,” said Steve Jobs in an Apple press release. “iPad is off to a terrific start, more people are buying Macs than ever before, and we have amazing new products still to come this year.”

Some folks have theorized that Apple's focus on the Mac is waning in light of the popularity of the iPad and iPhone, but recent sales figures show that Apple has as much reason to pay attention to the Mac as ever. During the quarter gone by, Apple sold 3.47 million Macs, a figure which represents an all-time quarterly high in Apple history. Impressively, this Mac sales record was set in a non-holiday quarter.

As for Apple's other products, iPod sales shrunk 8% overall, though iPod Touch sales increased by 48%. Apparently folks are migrating towards Apple's premium MP3 players and aren't as enthralled with devices like the iPod Nano and iPod Shuffle.

iPhone sales, not surprisingly, also grew from quarter to quarter, with Apple selling a grand total of 8.4 million units - a figure which represents a 61% increase from the same quarter a  year-ago. iPad sales, meanwhile, came in at 3.27 million units.

“We’re really pleased to have generated over $4 billion of cash during the quarter,” added Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer in Apple's press release. “Looking ahead to the fourth fiscal quarter of 2010, we expect revenue of about $18 billion and we expect diluted earnings per share of about $3.44."

Apple's dominance continues to impress, and the scary thing is that there's still a lot more room for growth. During the recent quarter, for example, international sales accounted for 52% of Apple's revenue. Moreover, during Apple's subsequent earnings conference call, the company noted that Mac sales in the Asia-Pacific region alone were up 73%. Coupled with Apple's continued push into China, surprisingly healthy iPad sales, and what can only be the inevitable arrival of the iPhone to Verizon, Apple's financial position has never been stronger, nor more promising.

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