Apple Inc. had the last laugh at the end of the week as its stock recovered from AT&T Inc.s iPhone sales hit and soared past the all-time high set on July 20.
On Thursday afternoon, Apple shares were trading for $145.60, down from an earlier afternoon price of $147.18, but still surpassing last Fridays record of $144.18.
The activity marked a big turnaround for Apple, whose shares plunged 6 percent on July 24, closing at $134.89, as AT&T reported fewer iPhone activations than expected.
But two days later, Apple again was flying high on news of its own stellar quarterly earnings.
Thanks to shipments of MacBook personal computers and iPod MP3 players, Apple recorded revenue of $5.41 billion and net profit of $818 million for its third quarter of 2007. Thats compared to $4.37 billion in revenue and $472 million in net profit a year earlier.
What everyone really wanted to know, though, was how the iPhone impacted results. Turned out, it still was too soon to tell, with AT&Ts and Apples numbers at odds. AT&T on July 24 said it had only activated 146,000, the news that sent Apples stock spiraling. But shares came back up after Apple, the next day, said it had sold 270,000 of the devices.
All of the sales took place two days before the second quarter ended, so it appears Wall Street overreacted. Ovum analyst Carl Gressum emphasized perspective on the numbers.
The entry into the handset business is a long-term play and should not be judged by two days worth of sales, he said.
Other factors influenced the iPhone results, as well. European and Asian operators have yet to announce their iPhone deals, and terms and conditions. And many consumers bought the iPhone only to auction it online. That means winning bidders didnt have time to activate subscriptions in the remaining hours of Apples third quarter.
Despite Apples topsy-turvy week, Apple CEO Steve Jobs remained upbeat, particularly regarding iPhone results.
iPhone is off to a great start. We hope to sell our 1 millionth iPhone by the end of its first full quarter of sales and our new product pipeline is very strong, he told investors on Wednesday.
In fact, on the strength of iPhone sales, Apple expects fourth-quarter revenue of $5.7 billion. That will give investors much to chew on for the next few months.