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Thursday, January 14, 1999 Published at 13:05 GMT

Business: The Company File

Apple bites back

The iMac has helped to reverse Apple's fortunes

Profits at Apple Computer more than tripled in the last three months thanks to the runaway success of its brightly coloured iMac personal computers.

It was Apple's fifth money-making quarter in a row and represents a turnaround in the company's fortunes.

Apple said it earned $152m in the three months to December compared to a profit of just $47m over the same period a year ago.

iMac sells like hotcakes

Much of the credit is due to the success of the iMac computer.

The original ice blue-toned computer is now available in blueberry, grape, tangerine, lime and strawberry colours.

[ image: The computer is now available in several different colours]
The computer is now available in several different colours
It helps them to stand out sharply on store shelves against traditional beige home PCs and has proved a winner with customers.

Apple told the MacWorld trade show last week that 800,000 iMacs had been sold in less than half a year, making it one of the most successful computer launches ever.

The return to profits marks an impressive change of direction for Apple.

The firm's performance was patchy throughout the 1990s and extremely poor in 1996 and 1997, as it steadily lost market share to personal computers that run on Microsoft Windows.

Turning the corner

However things started to change when Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple, returned to the company in 1996 after an absence which lasted nearly a decade.

He has managed to steer the company back into the black and last year Apple earned $309m compared to a loss of nearly $1.05bn the previous year.

[ image: The iMac has proved a huge hit with customers]
The iMac has proved a huge hit with customers
Commenting on the latest results, Mr Jobs said: "Unit growth year-over-year was three to four times higher than the industry average."

Apple Chief Financial Officer Fred Anderson said: "Growing earnings combined with world-class asset management resulted in positive cash flow from operations of $223m.

"Apple now has nearly $2.6bn in cash and short-term investments."

Analysts expect the growth will continue this year as the iMacs are joined by other products, including fast new versions of its G3 PowerMac workstations.

Apple's stock price has also rebounded and was up 37.5 cents to $46.50 on the Nasdaq index on Wednesday.

This Christmas has proved a strong boost to the personal computer industry, with Compaq and Dell also reporting good sales.

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