Forget about Apple
Here's why: The iEmpire made $549 per handset sold in Apple's fiscal third quarter, with Ma Bell apparently covering $300 of that tab via subsidies.
Brrrrring! Margins calling!
Call it the golden delicious unit in a tasty bushel. Apple's fiscal third-quarter revenue grew 12% over last year's haul, and per-share profit improved 13%, reflecting a higher gross margin. (It rose more than 140 basis points to 36.3%, year over year.) Both figures easily bested the Street's consensus estimates.
But Apple's overall margin expansion impresses me most. Why? Look at the Mac business. Unit sales improved 4%, but revenue fell 8% thanks to a flood of super-cheap netbooks from Dell
That means the iPhone did virtually all of the heavy lifting. Researcher iSuppli recently found that each unit of the device's latest 3G edition costs roughly $179 to make. Apple appears to be realizing at least a 50% gross margin on every iPhone sale.
And it's transforming the mobile phone industry as a result. Apple and Research In Motion
The iPhone Empire seems on a similar path for 2009. Love her or loathe her, Ma Bell is providing a boost.
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Fool contributor Tim Beyers is a member of the Motley Fool Rule Breakers stock-picking team. He owned stock and options positions in Apple at the time of publication. Check out Tim's portfolio holdings and Foolish writings, or connect with him on Twitter as @milehighfool. The Motley Fool is also on Twitter as @TheMotleyFool. The Fool's disclosure policy is partial to Granny Smiths.