Apple (AAPL) Earnings a Return to Form

Now that’s more like it. Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) rebounded from a rare fourth-quarter earnings miss today with first-quarter earnings that blew away analysts’ expectations.

Buoyed by the launch of the record-settingly popular iPhone 4S in October, Apple’s earnings for the quarter ended December 31 more than doubled from the same quarter a year ago. Net income for the technology giant was $13.1 billion, or $13.87 a share – up from $6 billion and $6.43 a share last year.

Better yet, Apple’s earnings blew Wall Street forecasts out of the water. Consensus predictions pegged Apple’s first-quarter earnings at about $10.08 per share.

Apple’s shares were up 7.5% to $452 in after-hours trading as of 5:26 p.m. eastern time.

As expected, the 4S was the catalyst behind Apple’s blowout quarter. The company shipped more than 37 million units of the new iPhones for the quarter, outpacing analyst expectations of 30 million units. iPad shipments also topped analyst forecasts.

The bounce-back is a return to form for a company that almost always beats earnings estimates. Apple fell short of earnings in the previous quarter for the first time in years. But as I wrote back then, the miss was more aberration than sign of impending doom. The 4S was launched in early October, and iPhone sales slumped late in the fourth quarter as people patiently awaited the release of Apple’s newest product.

Apple generated $28.3 billion in revenue in the fourth quarter. This quarter, revenues jumped to an all-time high of $46.3 billion. 

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