Apple has finally hauled itself back into the black with fourth quarter profits of $25 million (#15.6 million).
The figures, for the three months ended 27 September, were far better than expected. Industry analysts had been predicting losses of around $37 million.
Analysts were also miles off with their predictions last quarter, estimating losses of $100 million, when the reality was a loss of just over $32 million.
While an improvement on last quarter, the figures compare unfavourably with last year's corresponding period, in which Apple posted profits of $60 million. Sales for the quarter also dropped $682 million from last year, to $2.3 billion.
The fourth quarter earnings figures included a pre-tax reduction in operating expenses of $28 million relating to restructuring charges. Without that reduction, net income would have been $8 million.
Apple's chief financial officer Fred Anderson said the company expects to hit 'sustainable' profitability by the second quarter of 1997, and foresees fiscal 1997 to be profitable overall.
"We've reduced inventories by nearly $400 million since June and completed the quarter with over $1.7 billion in cash and short term investments," he added.
Apple was able to cut restructuring costs because more employees than expected took early retirement packages. The company now expects to lay off 1,500 people instead of the 2,800 initially predicted.
Jon Molyneux, general manager for Apple UK, commented: "This is the second time the analysts have been caught on the hop. There were various figures bandied about, but this time it's clear which way it's going. The transformation Amelio (Apple's chief) started is working. The finances are under control; the challenge now is for Apple to re-establish itself as an innovator."
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