Apple Q2 income blows away forecast

Apple Computer Inc. blew away analyst forecasts Wednesday, reporting second quarter income of US$40 million, excluding non-recurring charges, down from $233 million a year ago, with international sales accounting for nearly half of the company’s business.

The income figure translates into $0.11 per diluted share, down from $0.64 per share the company posted in the second quarter of 2000.

The results, however, beat by $0.10 the consensus estimate of analysts polled by First Call/Thomson Financial. Those analysts reduced their consensus by a penny just last week.

Revenue for the quarter, which ended March 31 was $1.43 billion, down 26 percent year-on-year, Apple said in a statement.

“Apple returned to profitability in this tough economic climate by launching several new products,” Steve Jobs, Apple’s chief executive officer, said in the statement. They included the Titanium PowerBook G4 and Mac OS X. The company said it shipped 751,000 Macintosh computers in total during the quarter.

“We’re very pleased that our results exceeded expectations in a difficult environment,” echoed Fred Anderson, Apple’s chief financial officer, in a conference call with press and analysts.

More than one third of Apple’s sales during the quarter were made through Apple’s online store, Anderson said. About 28 percent of customers were first-time computer buyers, while 15 percent were users who had switched from computers running Microsoft Corp.’s Windows operating system, according to Apple estimates.

Looking at the results by region, the company saw the strongest sequential increase in revenue in the U.S. and Japan.

“Although Europe continues to do well, we’re starting to see some signs of softening,” Anderson said.

Including non-recurring items, Apple posted income of $43 million and earnings of $0.12 per diluted share for the quarter. The non-recurring items include an after-tax gain of $89 million from the sale of approximately 23 million shares of ARM Holdings PLC, and an after-tax charge of $86 million related to the write down of certain equity investments, the company said in a statement. Apple still held about 8 million shares of ARM at the end of the quarter, Anderson said.

The computer maker ended the quarter with about $4.1 billion in cash and less than $10 million worth of its own inventory, Anderson said. It now expects to generate between $3.2 billion and $3.4 billion in revenue during the second half of the fiscal year.

Apple, in Cupertino, California, can be reached at +1-408-996-1010 or at