Apple has strong Q4 but may have to restate

Apple investigates stock-option prices

Strong sales of its iPod music players and Macintosh computers helped Apple Computer earn net income of $US546 million in its fiscal 2006 fourth quarter, but the company warned it could restate its financial results at a later time as it continues an investigation of stock-option practices.

For the quarter ended Sept. 30, 2006, Apple reported revenue of $4.84 billion, a 24 per cent increase over the year-ago quarter, when the company reported $3.68 billion in revenue, Apple said Wednesday. Net income also was up year-over-year, an increase of 27 per cent compared with the same time period last year, when Apple reported net income of $430 million.

Earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter were $0.62. Both EPS and revenue numbers solidly beat estimates by analysts polled by Thomson Financial, which predicted Apple would earn $0.51 per share for the quarter on revenue of $4.62 billion.

The company said it sold more than 1.6 million Macintosh computers in the quarter and shipped 8.7 million iPods, the latter figure slightly higher than the 8.5 million iPod shipments Wall Street analysts were predicting. Both numbers represented growth over the year-ago quarter, with Mac shipments up 35 per cent and iPod shipments up 30 per cent.

Still, the strong quarter was shadowed by a stock-option investigation that may require the company to restate its financial results for the fourth quarter if historical results have to be restated, which the company said is likely. In a press statement, Apple predicted it may have to make a "significant adjustment" to its financials after an independent investigation determined on Oct. 4 that stock option grants made on 15 dates between 1997 and 2002 appear to have grant dates that precede the approval of those grants.

Apple continues to investigate these findings, but said it likely will need to restate its historical financial statements to record non-cash charges for compensation expense and related cash and non-cash tax adjustments relating to past stock option grants.

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Elizabeth Montalbano

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