Apple meets fourth-quarter targets as shipments fall

Apple Computer announced a $45m (£29m) net loss for its fourth quarter for this financial year, and also announced the number of...

Apple Computer announced a $45m (£29m) net loss for its fourth quarter for this financial year, and also announced the number of Macintoshes shipped fell nearly 14% compared with last year.

The hardware and software maker reported a loss after one-time charges related to investment losses, restructuring costs and other matters. In the same quarter a year ago, Apple reported a profit of $66m.

Revenue for the quarter totalled $1.44bn (£0.9bn), meeting analysts expectations. Apple said that excluding charges it would have reported a profit of $7m (£4.5m).

Apple shipped 734,000 Macintoshes computers during the quarter, down 14% from last year. Its retail stores brought in $100m (£64.4m) in revenue.

Analysts have predicted that Apple will report a rise in sales for the first quarter of its financial year 2003, when Christmas shoppers are expected to drive sales of its computers and digital devices, such as the iPod music player.

"The iPod has been an unbelievable hit," said Ryan Jones, an analyst covering digital media and consumer electronics with the Yankee Group.

"We're also seeing consumers gravitate towards multimedia applications... and some of the user interface advantages that Mac OS X offers will make that an attractive choice for consumers in the holiday season," Jones said.

Despite some positive prospects, Apple chief executive officer Steve Jobs said that Apple does "not expect our industry to pick up any time soon".

Some price manoeuvering could, potentially, help the company compete in the market for desktop computers, Jones added. "They have lowered the prices considerably on their eMacs," he said, referring to Apple's desktop for the education market. "Typically the market [for Macs] has been price insensitive. Will lowering the price really help them?"

For the full financial year of 2002, Apple reported net earnings of $65m (£42m) on revenue of $5.74bn (£3.7bn), compared with a net loss of $25m on revenue of $5.36bn in 2001.

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