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Profit soars 67% in quarter

SAN JOSE, Calif. - Apple Inc.'s fiscal fourth-quarter profit jumped 67 percent and easily beat Wall Street expectations, capping a record-breaking year that saw unprecedented momentum in its Mac business, ceaseless consumer interest in its iPod players, and a successful introduction of its newest endeavor, the iPhone.

For the three months ended Sept. 30, Apple said yesterday it earned $904 million, or $1.01 per share, compared with $542 million, or 62 cents per share, in the year-ago quarter. Revenue totaled $6.22 billion, compared with $4.84 billion in the same quarter last year.

Analysts polled by Thomson Financial expected earnings of 86 cents per share on sales of $6.07 billion.

Shares climbed $9.50, more than 5 percent, in extended trading.

Apple said it shipped a record 2.16 million Macs in the quarter, an increase of 34 percent, while it sold 10.2 million iPods, up 17 percent.

In the first full quarter of iPhone sales - a number many on Wall Street were waiting for - Apple said it sold 1.12 million units, bringing the cumulative total to 1.39 million since the product debuted on June 29.

For the full fiscal year, Apple earned a record $3.5 billion, up more than 75 percent from last year when it earned $1.99 billion. Yearly sales reached over $24 billion, a 24 percent jump from fiscal 2006.

Apple's fortunes have skyrocketed in recent years as its iPods became a cultural phenomenon. The portable players, which work on Macs and Microsoft Corp. Windows-based machines, have also drawn more people to Apple's software and design, leading to what analysts call a "halo effect" on Mac sales.

After hovering for years with 2 to 3 percent share of the PC market in the United States, Apple's slice has now grown to 8 percent, according to the latest figures from market researcher Gartner Inc.

Now, many investors are betting Apple's foray in the cellphone market will be another lucrative engine.

The iPhone, a combination cellphone, iPod, and multimedia Web device, "is a game-changing product," said Stephen Coleman, chief investment officer at Daedalus Capital LLC.

For the current quarter, Apple said it expects earnings of about $1.42 per share on revenue of about $9.2 billion. Analysts on average had expected earnings of $1.39 per share on sales of $8.58 billion.

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