Apple announce forecast-busting quarterly results

Apple shares remained on an even keel, despite news that Steve Jobs was taking medical leave, thanks to the announcement of blockbuster sales of its iPads and iPhones.

Hotly-anticipated quarterly results last night smashed through Wall Street's forecasts, proving that Apple devices were amongst the most sought-after gifts over the holiday period.

The company sold 16.2 million iPhones in the last three months of 2010, up 86 per cent on the same period the year before, while Macintosh computer sales rose 23 per cent to 4.1 million units. And Apple said it had sold 7.3 million iPads, the revolutionary tablet device which it introduced earlier in the year.

Apple is now making profits at a rate of $65m per day, and Tim Cook, chief operating officer, told analysts that "Apple is doing its best work ever, and we are all very happy with the product pipeline".

Mr Jobs, who suffered from pancreatic cancer in the past, told Apple staff on Monday that he was taking medical leave, but he didn't say how long for or why. He said he would continue to be involved in product decisions.

The absence of the company's visionary founder unsettled investors less this time than in 2008, when he took time off for a liver transplant. Shares fell 2.2 per cent yesterday, and then rebounded 1.5 per cent in after-hours trading, after the results were announced.

Analysts hailed the success of the iPad in particular among numerous forecast-busting figures in the results statement.

Also last night, US prosecutors charged two computer hackers who they say stole the e-mail addresses of more than 100,000 iPad users, including politicians and media personalities. The pair, Daniel Spitler, a 26-year-old bookstore security guard from San Francisco, and Andrew Auernheimer, 25, of Arkansas, were competing to impress their fellow hackers, police allege.