SAN FRANCISCO - Apple profits rose on the back of strong iPhone sales in the past quarter, the company reported Thursday, as the US tech giant begins selling its newest flagship handset.
Net profit rose 19 per cent from a year ago to US$10.7 billion (S$14.5 billion) in the fiscal fourth quarter to September 30, Apple said. Revenues were up 12 per cent to US$52.6 billion.
Release of the earnings figures pushed Apple shares up more than three per cent to US$173.20 and came as iPhone X models began hitting the market in some time zones.
Apple sold more iPhones, iPads and Mac computers than it did in the same quarter a year earlier. Smartphones sales climbed by about a million units to 46.7 million in the three months winding up the California company's fiscal year, according to the earnings report.
"We're happy to report a very strong finish to a great fiscal 2017, with record fourth quarter revenue, year-over-year growth for all our product categories, and our best quarter ever for services," Apple chief executive Tim Cook said in the release.
"We're looking forward to a great holiday season, and with the launch of iPhone X getting underway right now, we couldn't be more excited as we begin to deliver our vision for the future with this stunning device."
Apple closed out its fiscal year posting a full-year profit of US$48.35 billion, up 5.8 per cent, on revenues of US$229 billion, a rise of 6.3 per cent from the previous year.
In the latest quarter Apple was able to reverse its fortunes in China, boosting overall sales by 12 per cent in the "Greater China" region. Sales were up in other regions except for Japan, which saw an 11 per cent revenue drop.
Analyst Patrick Moorhead, of Moor Insights & Strategy, said "Apple crushed" with a strong quarterly report showing improvements in all product categories and a 34 per cent jump in services revenue.
Moorhead said concerns that iPhone sales would weaken as customers awaited the newest device were unfounded.
"Apple managed to thread the needle on iPhone sales between the giant interest in the iPhone X and what the company had to ship, which was iPhone 7 and 8," he said.
With its new iPhone X launching Friday, Apple is setting the ambitious goal for itself of reinventing the smartphone as it strives to fend off fierce competition from rivals, especially in China.
The iPhone is the main profit driver for Apple, accounting for more than half its revenues, and importantly is the cornerstone for the ecosystem of other devices and services.
The flagship handset marking the 10th anniversary of the first iPhone release, was set to hit stores Friday in about 50 markets around the world.
Apple upped the ante by boosting the starting price of the new handset to US$999 for US customers, a price which will be higher in other markets and with extra options.
The lofty price tag has caused Apple to lose its shine in the eyes of some people in countries dealing with tough economic times and low incomes.
Apple shares have climbed with the approach of the launch date, seeing a jump this week after it said pre-orders for iPhone X are "off the charts."
Cook has described the iPhone X as the future of the smartphone, packed with technology including facial recognition, cordless charging and an edge-to-edge screen made of organic light-emitting diodes used in high-end televisions.
Analysts interviewed by AFP see signs of strong demand for iPhone X, perhaps fueled by the company's famously devoted fans who have shunned freshly released iPhone 8 models to wait for the 10th anniversary device.