Apple claimed a staggering 80% of mobile profit in Q4

Impressive data points from Apple’s record-setting holiday quarter continue to trickle out, and new estimates suggest that the company accounted for a staggering share of mobile profits in the fourth quarter of 2011. Morgan Keegan analyst Tavis McCourt wrote in a research note on Tuesday that Apple took in approximately 50% of all mobile industry revenues last quarter. Even more impressive, the analyst says Apple’s high-margin iPhone lineup accounted for more than 80% of all mobile phone profits. Read on for more.

McCourt reiterated his Outperform rating on shares of Apple stock, noting that industry revenue grew 34% in the fourth calendar quarter including Apple’s results, but it would have slid 0.4% excluding Apple.

“The broad handset industry appears to be heading into recession territory with overall handset shipment growth decelerating substantially to the lowest level since 2009,” the analyst wrote according to Barron’s blog Tech Trader Daily. “It appears likely Q1:12 could decline Y/Y in unit terms if normal seasonality occurs. Historically, this has only happened during meaningful global recessions […] Outside of Samsung, it’s getting increasingly hard to understand where the rest of the competitors will get the R&D dollars to compete longer term given their shrinking profitability. Perhaps Microsoft and Google have the answer.”

Morgan Keegan’s estimate that Apple took in more than 80% of all mobile profit last quarter exceeds earlier estimates that put the figure around 75%. Either estimate is telling of the current state of the industry, however, considering the Cupertino-based vendor was responsible for just 9% of all cell phones shipped between October and December last year. UBS analyst Maynard Um wrote recently that he expects Apple and Samsung to combine to account for 90% of global smartphone profits in 2012.

As high as the iPhone 4S sent Apple’s earnings last quarter, the firm’s next-generation smartphone could be an even bigger hit. Apple’s next iPhone is expected to feature a redesigned aluminum case, 4G LTE connectivity and a larger display that measures approximately 4 inches diagonally. BGR reported this past December that the new smartphone will likely launch this fall.

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