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Network Appliance rallies on strong 1Q results

Shares of Network Appliance Inc. (Nasdaq: NTAP) closed up 2 5/8, or 5 percent, to 57 3/4 Thursday, one day after it met analysts' estimates in its first quarter.

In the quarter, Network Appliance earned $13.5 million, or 16 cents a share, on sales of $103.3 million.

First Call consensus expected the provider of network-attached data access products to earn 16 cents a share in the quarter.

By any measure, it was a terrific quarter for the Sunnyvale, Calif. company.

The 103.3 million in sales represents an 80 percent jump compared to the year-ago quarter when it made $7.1 million, or 10 cents a share, on sales of $57.4 million. It was also a 14 percent jump from the fourth quarter when it recorded sales of $90.8 million.

"The explosion of data has generated strong demand for storage architectures that can solve the business problems of managing network accessible data," said CEO Dan Warmenhoven in a prepared release. "Network Appliance is focused on providing products that deliver on our reliable, fast and simple appliance philosophy."

Network Appliance counts the likes of Lycos Inc. (Nasdaq: LCOS), Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO), Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) and Texas Instruments Inc. (NYSE: TXN) among its customers.

The stock moved up to a 52-week high of 67 in April after falling to a low of 16 in October.

Nine of the 10 analysts following the stock maintain either a "buy" or "strong buy" recommendation.

First Call consensus expects it to earn 68 cents a share in the fiscal year.>