Strong Q1 sends Apple stock (and CEO) skywards

Apple Computer's soaring Q1 financial results ignited Apple shares on the Nasdaq yesterday to the point that trading was halted temporarily.

Apple Computer's soaring Q1 financial results ignited Apple shares on the Nasdaq yesterday to the point that trading was halted temporarily.

A soaring first-quarter financial report from Apple Computer yesterday was coupled with news that the company's board of directors wants to send Chief Executive Officer Steve Jobs soaring -- in his own airplane.

Apple posted a first-quarter net profit for fiscal 2000 of $US183 million, or $1.03 per diluted share, beating analysts' estimates by 10 cents per share. The results for the three-month period that ended Jan. 1, 2000, compare to a net profit of $152 million, or 95 cents per diluted share, for the same quarter a year ago. Revenue for the first quarter of fiscal 2000 was $2.34 billion, up 37 percent from the year-ago quarter.

The report ignited Apple shares on the Nasdaq exchange, so much so that trading was halted temporarily. Apple shares shot up as high as $113.2 before closing at $106.5

Apple attributed the banner quarter to continued strong sales of the company's iMac and iBook computers. The vendor sold 1,377,000 systems, including more than 700,000 iMacs and 235,000 iBooks, Apple said. International sales accounted for 51% of the quarter's revenue.

Jobs, who recently shed his long-term interim CEO title to become Apple CEO, said in the release that his company's unit sales growth last quarter was 2.5 times higher than the industry average. He added that Apple has managed its inventory well, ending the quarter with less than one day of inventory.

The Gulfstream V airplane that the board of directors voted to give Jobs is in recognition for his service to the company during the past two and a half years, the release said. The board also voted to grant Jobs stock options to purchase 10 million shares of Apple common stock. The options were granted a week ago, the release said. Apple's stock closed Jan. 12 at $87.

Jobs, whose annual salary remains a token $1, has taken no compensation since returning to the company in 1997. Since then, Apple's market capitalisation has risen from less than $2 billion to over $16 billion, and the board wanted to show its appreciation for Apple's performance under Jobs' leadership by giving him the airplane and the options, Apple board member Ed Woolard said in the release.

A Gulfstream jet is the latest must-have accessory for IT CEOs. Last month, Mark Cuban, co-founder of Broadcast.com, purchased one online for a cool $40 million.

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