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National Semi profits soar

National Semiconductor reported an 86 percent jump in quarterly profits, beating Wall Street's estimates.

National Semiconductor (NSM) has reported an 86 percent jump in quarterly profits, beating Wall Street's estimates and bucking a trend for slower third-quarter earnings.

National reported net earnings of $42.8 million yesterday, or 30 cents a share, for the period ending February 23. That compared with profits of $23 million, or 17 cents, for the same period a year ago.

Wall Street had expected the company to report earnings of 23 cents, according to First Call.

In the previous quarter, the semiconductor maker posted net profits of $29.5 million and revenues of $661.5 million.

Third-quarter revenues, meanwhile, grew over year-ago and the previous quarter's figures. The company reported revenues of $680.5 million for the quarter, up from $600.3 million a year ago.

"Combined with the continuing recovery of our targeted market areas in analog, Ethernet, wireless, and high-end personal computers, this improvement is reflected in our increased bottom line profitability," Brian Halla, chief executive and president, said in a statement.

Worldwide bookings in February had a book-to-bill ratio above one to one, but orders for the quarter were historically lower than the previous quarter. The ratio looks at orders coming in the door and booked against those shipped and billed.

National pointed to strong personal computer orders as pushing third-quarter performance out of an usually slow season. And local area network orders also helped drive sales. Orders worldwide were also stronger over last year, especially in Southeast Asia.

During the quarter, the company also reached an agreement to sell Fairchild Semiconductor, which it had earlier spun off in its first quarter. The deal with Sterling, LCC, and Fairchild to launch a $550 million recapitalization of the company is expected to close in the fourth quarter.