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Apple profit on a roll as iPod sales rock

Surging sales of the company's market-leading digital music players help the Mac maker triple profit.

Apple Computer posted on Wednesday quarterly net income that more than tripled, fueled by surging sales of its market-leading iPod digital music players.

Apple also gave a forecast for its current quarter that is largely in line with current consensus Wall Street estimates. Shares rose 3 percent in after-hours trading on the news.

For its third quarter, ended June 26, Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple said it had net income of $61 million, or 16 cents a share, up from $19 million, or 5 cents a share, in the year-ago period.

Revenue rose 30 percent to $2.01 billion from $1.55 billion.

"In the markets we're participating in, demand looks good for us," Peter Oppenheimer, Apple's chief financial officer, said in an interview.

Excluding 2 cents a share in restructuring charges, Apple said it had a profit of $67 million, or 17 cents a share.

On that basis, analysts polled by Reuters Estimates had forecast Apple to earn, on average, 15 cents a share, within a range of 13 cents to 16 cents. Revenue was pegged at $1.94 billion.

Apple said it expects to post fourth-quarter revenues of $2.1 billion and earnings per share of 16 cents to 17 cents, including 1 cent per share in restructuring charges.

Analysts now expect Apple to earn, on average, 17 cents a share on revenue of $2.04 billion for the fourth quarter.

Apple sold 860,000 iPods in the quarter, accounting for $249 million in revenue, up from 304,000 iPods sold in the year-ago quarter.

The company sold 876,000 Macintosh computers in the period, accounting for $1.26 billion, an increase from 771,000 a year ago.

Shares of Apple rose to $30.48 on INET in after-hours trade. In regular trade, Apple stock rose 36 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $29.58 on the Nasdaq. The shares have risen 38 percent so far this year.

Story Copyright  © 2004 Reuters Limited.  All rights reserved.