Apple 2.0

Covering the business that Steve Jobs built

Apple's headcount, up 30%, still industry's most productive

October 30, 2011: 6:34 AM ET

With one seventh as many employees as IBM, Apple generates 13 times more profit

In most recent quarter. Source: Google Finance, Apple Inc. Click to enlarge.

As of September, Apple (AAPL) had 60,400 full-time equivalent employees, according to the SEC Form 10-K it filed Wednesday, nearly 30% more than the 46,600 it reported in Q4 2010.

But those employees generate more profit per capita -- by far -- than any of Apple's peers in the industry.

In the quarter that ended in September -- not its best, mind you -- the company generated sales of $28.3 billion and net income of $6.62 billion, or nearly $110,000 profit per employee.

Source: Google Finance, Company reports

That's a useful metric because it gives you a yardstick by which to compare companies of very different sizes. Giant IBM (IBM), for example, with more than 425,000 employees, generated less than $9,000 profit per employee last quarter. Amazon's (AMZN) 43,000 workers are even less efficient, bringing in only $1,458 apiece.

Apple came out on top in a similar survey that Pingdom ran last spring using annual rather than quarterly net income -- thus generating numbers roughly four times larger. Below, their chart from May comparing 2011 to 2008, when Google (GOOG) was at the top of the heap.

Source: pingdom.com

NOTE: An earlier version of this story reported profit per employee in millions, rather than thousands of dollars. Rookie math error, but what's a few orders of magnitude among friends?

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About This Author
Philip Elmer-Dewitt
Philip Elmer-DeWitt
Editor, Apple 2.0, Fortune

Philip Elmer-DeWitt has been following Apple since 1982, first for Time Magazine, and now on the Web for Fortune.com.

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