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Apple Smashes Q1 Earnings Forecast

Apple posted blowout first quarter earnings Tuesday as its new suite of iPhones pushed handset sales past $55 billion while services revenues continued to grow.

Apple Inc.  (AAPL) - Get Apple Inc. Report smashed first quarter earnings forecast Tuesday, thanks in part to robust demand for its new suite of iPhones, sending shares in the world's biggest tech company to a fresh all-time high in extended hours trading. 

Apple said earnings for the three months ending on December 28, the group's fiscal first quarter, were pegged at $4.99 per share, up 19.4% from last year and well ahead of the Street consensus forecast of $4.55 per share. Group revenues, Apple said, rose 9% from last year to $91.8 billion, again smashing the analyst consensus of an $88.4 billion tally.

Looking into the company's March quarter, Apple said it sees revenues in the range of $63 billion to $67 billion, firmly ahead of the Street consensus of $62.4 billion. 

“We are thrilled to report Apple’s highest quarterly revenue ever, fueled by strong demand for our iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro models, and all-time records for Services and Wearables,” said CEO Tim Cook. “During the holiday quarter our active installed base of devices grew in each of our geographic segments and has now reached over 1.5 billion."

"We see this as a powerful testament to the satisfaction, engagement and loyalty of our customers — and a great driver of our growth across the board,” he added.

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Apple shares were marked 1.9% higher in extended hours trading immediately following the earnings release to indicate a Wednesday opening bell price of $323.70 each, a move that would extend the stock's six-month gain to around 54%.

iPhone revenues, Apple said, rose 7.6% to $55.96 billion, reversing a recent trend of declining growth after the launch of three new handsets -- the iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max -- in September of last year. 

Services revenues were 16.9% higher from the same period last year at $12.72 billion. Revenue from the sale of wearable devices such as the AppleWatch and AirPods hit $10 billion, a record high, that topped analysts' estimates by $500 million, Company gross margins also improved by 40 basis points to 38.4%, Apple said.

Apple's installed base, a measure of the total number of product units it has in active use, rose to 1.5 billion, the company said, while subscribers to its myriad services hit 480 million, a 33.3% improvement from the same period last year. 

Outside of iPhones, Apple noted that Mac sales slipped 3.5% from last year to $7.16 billion, while iPad sales dropped 11.1% to $5.98 billion. China revenues, Apple said, were up 3.1% to $13.58 billion.