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National Semiconductor zips past 4Q estimates

    National Semiconductor easily topped analysts' estimates in its fourth quarter Thursday, posting a profit of $134.2 million, or 68 cents a share, on sales of $595.3 million.

    First Call Corp. consensus expected National Semi (NYSE: NSM) to earn 62 cents a share in the quarter.

    Its shares were off 2 1/4 to 61 7/8 in afternoon trading.

    The $595.3 million in sales marks a 22 percent jump from the year-ago quarter when it lost $40 million, or 24 cents a share, on sales of $486 million.

    "Led by robust analogue and wireless sales, we had an outstanding quarter," said CEO Brian Halla in a prepared release. "Now we know we are in the right markets, with the right products and the right customers."

    Last quarter, it earned $99.8 million, or 51 cents a share, on sales of $548.9 million.

    Company officials credited strong demand for analogue-based chips for wireless communications and networking products for the upside surprise.

    Worldwide bookings grew nearly 40 percent over last year. Monthly orders increased steadily through the quarter. All regions experienced double-digit year-over-year and sequential quarterly order growth. This included an almost 80 percent increase in orders in Europe and better than 60 percent growth in Japan, compared with last year.

    Including one-time items, the company reported net income of $153.9 million, or 78 cents a share for the latest quarter, compared with a loss of $783.5 million, or $4.65 a share, for the year-ago fiscal fourth quarter.

    Its shares moved up to a 52-week high of 85 15/16 in March after falling to a low of 18 7/8 last June.

    Sixteen of the 17 analysts tracking the stock rate it either a "buy" or "strong buy."