China boost sees Apple revenue, profit and sales rise

APPLE shares were up over 1 per cent in after-hours trading after the tech giant exceeded first quarter expectations for revenue per share, profit and sales yet again.

Profit for the first three months of 2015 rose to $13.6 billion, up 33 per cent from $10.2 billion a year earlier, led by sales of more than 60 million iPhones. Apple also said it had more than $195 billion in cash on its books. The results, delivered after markets closed on Monday, were results just shy of records made last quarter.

Shares rose 1.6 per cent in after-hours trading to $134.52.

Apple sold 12.6 million iPads, down 22 per cent on last year, generating $5.43 billion in revenue. Some analysts said  the bigger iPhone 6 had eaten into iPad sales. Others said massive production of the iPhone had used up capacity for production of other products.

Sales in China, Hong Kong and Taiawn rose 71 per cent to $16.8 billion on the same period last year, outstripping US sales for the first time. Analysts said the rising Chinese middle class and its taste for 'aspirational' products, such as the iPhone, had played a part.

"Everything you look at in China was extremely good," Cook told analysts in the company's earnings call. "We're really proud of the results there and continue to invest in the country."

Apple also announced that it will return $200 billion to shareholders by increasing its capital return program by 50 per cent up to March 2017.

The company raised its dividend to $0.52 per share from $0.47 and increased its buyback authorisation - another way of putting money back into shareholders' hands by buying back their stock - from $90 billion to $140 billion.