Strong IPhone Sales in China Push Apple Q4 Profit Up 31%

Apple beats top and bottom line estimates despite global currency headwinds.

— -- Apple announced a 31 percent jump in profit during its fourth quarter and CEO Tim Cook said Apple Watch sales beat the company's expectations.

Apple is still in the "very early innings" of the Apple Watch and "sales of Apple Watch were up sequentially and were ahead of our expectations," Cook said in a conference call with analysts. He declined to give specific figures. "Apple Watch is just getting going," he said.

Apple reported revenue of $51.5 billion in the three months that ended Sept. 26, compared to $42.1 billion in the same period last year. Its profit was $11.1 billion in the quarter, compared to $8.5 billion a year ago.

The company sold 5.7 million Macs, an all-time record for Apple. The company sold more than 48 million iPhones, compared to 47.5 million in the third quarter. Cook said he expects continued iPhone growth in the current quarter. The company sold nearly 9.9 million iPads in Q4, compared to 10.9 million in the third quarter. Apple will begin shipping the iPad Pro next month.

Revenue in greater China nearly doubled year-over-year, Cook said, adding that he just returned from a four-day visit there. On Saturday, Apple opened its 25th store in China. Apple plans to have 40 stores by the middle of next year in China. The company has 463 Apple stores around the world.

Cook also said Apple Pay is seeing double-digit growth in transactions. Cook announced today that Apple Pay is partnering with American Express in Australia and Canada this year, and will expand to Spain, Singapore and Hong Kong next year.

"We see an enormous change in China over the next several years," Cook said pointing to China's booming middle class. "We are reasonably well-positioned in China. I'm sure we can do better."

Apple's board also declared a cash dividend of 52 cents a share payable on Nov. 12 to shareholders as of Nov. 9.