The company's stronger-than-expected performance follows a weaker-than-expected revenue forecast last week from Cirrus Logic, which derives a large amount of revenue from supplying audio chips for Apple's iPhone and iPad. Investors punished Apple's stock last week, believing Cirrus Logic's forecast foretold poor results from Apple.
On Tuesday, Apple's stock closed at $406.13 per share, about $300 off its 52-week high, leaving the company's paper valuation at about $278 billion less than it was back on September 19, 2012. It surged in after-hours trading once it was clear Apple had performed well.
To further boost its stock price, Apple is increasing the amount of cash it returns to investors. The company said it plans to return $100 billion to shareholders by 2015, $55 billion more than the company announced previously. It is also increasing its quarterly stock dividend by 15% and will be issuing a dividend of $3.05 per common share on May 16, 2013.
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"We are pleased to report record March quarter revenue thanks to continued strong performance of iPhone and iPad," said Apple CEO Tim Cook in a statement. "Our teams are hard at work on some amazing new hardware, software and services and we are very excited about the products in our pipeline."
At Apple, however, "amazing" amounts to boilerplate. Last year, the company used the term in its descriptions of its iPad, iPod, iPhone and iMac, among other products and services.
Apple is believed to be working on a new iPad that's significantly lighter and thinner than its predecessors. The company is also rumored to be to working on a revised Mac Pro that will be manufactured in the U.S. The next major release of Apple's mobile operating system, iOS 7, is reportedly running behind schedule.
But returning the company to its previous stratospheric valuation will require a new product category, rather than an incremental improvement on an existing product line. Apple is widely believed to be working on an Internet-connected wristwatch, which might be enough to revive investor enthusiasm.
Acknowledging these concerns on a conference call for investors, Apple CEO Tim Cook expressed frustration with the performance of Apple's stock and reiterated the suggestion that a revitalized product line is coming. "We've got some really great stuff coming in the fall and across all of 2014," he said.
Apple sold 37.4 million iPhones, 19.5 million iPads and almost 4 million Macs during the quarter. During the same quarter a year ago, those figures were 35.1 million, 11.8 million and 4 million.
Apple CEO Peter Oppenheimer noted that the 2% Mac sales decline during the quarter was significantly better than the 14% decline IDC reported for the PC market overall. Cook nonetheless insisted that Apple's strategy with regard to Macs hasn't changed and that the company will continue to create innovative computers.