Rollout of new iPhones reaches record numbers, pushes stock

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Apple Inc. sold 9 million iPhones in the weekend debut of two new models, almost double the previous record, alleviating investor concern about a prolonged slump at the world's largest technology company.

Sales reached record territory even amid supply constraints for the iPhone 5s, the higher-end version of the two handsets, Apple said Monday in a statement. The results also led Apple to say that quarterly revenue and gross margin will be at the top end of a prior forecast.

"While we've sold out of our initial supply of iPhone 5s, stores continue to receive new iPhone shipments regularly," CEO Tim Cook said in the statement. "We appreciate everyone's patience and are working hard to build enough new iPhones for everyone."

Apple's shares rose $23.23, or 5 percent, to $490.60, as the sales exceeded even the loftiest analysts' projections of less than 8 million. The iPhone is Apple's most important product, accounting for half its sales. The company has seen its revenue and profit growth slow and has ceded share of the $280 billion smartphone market to Samsung Electronics Co. and other rivals.

"The rumors of Apple's demise are severely exaggerated," said Laurence Balter, an analyst with Oracle Investment Research in Fox Island, Wash. "Those numbers blew away anything I could have imagined and just show that they are still producing the best quality phones in the industry."

Apple also said its new iOS 7 mobile software for the iPhone and iPad had been downloaded on more than 200 million devices since Sept. 18, double the number for last year's upgrade. As part of the new system, 11 million people used Apple's new iTunes Radio, an Internet-radio service added with iOS 7.

The new iPhones went on sale Sept. 20 in the U.S., Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Puerto Rico, Singapore and the U.K. It's the first time Apple rolled out its flagship product in China on the same day as elsewhere, abandoning the usual three-month delay, as the company seeks to lure new customers in the world's largest mobile-phone market. The phones were also available for the first time on NTT DoCoMo Inc., Japan's largest wireless network.

The more feature-rich iPhone 5s has an improved camera, fingerprint-reader and faster processor. It comes in three color variations -- black/gray, white/silver and white/gold -- and costs $199 to $399 in the U.S. with a two-year wireless contract. The less-expensive 5c model is a reconfigured version of last year's iPhone with a plastic casing that comes in five colors. It starts at $99 with a contract.

The gold version emerged as the hottest seller, and AT&T Inc., Sprint Corp., T-Mobile US Inc. and Verizon Wireless won't be able to ship gold iPhones until October, while the others are available this month, Apple said on its website.

In a separate filing, Apple said it expects total revenue for the current quarter to be near the high end of its forecast of $34 billion to $37 billion. Gross margin, the portion of sales remaining after deducting product costs, will be near the high end of a range of 36 percent to 37 percent.

Sales and profit growth have decelerated at Apple in the absence of major new product categories, and the company is counting on the new iPhone designs to lure new customers.

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