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Pixar shatters Q4 estimates; raises 2001 estimates

    Buoyed by strong sales of its "Toy Story 2" creation, Steve Jobs' other company easily beat the Street in its fourth quarter Thursday, posting a profit of $35.2 million, or 71 cents a share, on sales of $75.7 million.

    First Call Corp. consensus expected Pixar to earn 63 cents a share on sales of $64.1 million.

    Pixar (Nasdaq: PIXR) shares closed off $2.67 to $33.19 ahead of the earnings report, but shot up to $36.50 in after-hours trading.

    In the year-ago quarter, Pixar pocketed $9.6 million, or 19 cents a share, on sales of $24.9 million.

    Chief Financial Officer Ann Mather told analysts during a conference call that it now expects to post earnings of between 20 cents and 45 cents a share in its first quarter, mainly as a result of "Toy Story 2" merchandise and home video sales.

    Earnings for the fiscal year are expected to come in between 30 cents and 50 cents a share.

    Analysts were forecasting earnings of 10 cents a share in the first quarter and 39 cents a share in fiscal 2001.

    For the fiscal year, Pixar raked in $78.4 million, or $1.57 a share, on sales of $172.3 million compared to a profit of $49.2 million, or 99 cents a share, on sales of $121 million in fiscal 1999.

    Pixar shares moved up to a 52-week high of $40.50 in January after slumping to a low of $25.63 in December.

    Last quarter, it hurdled analysts’ estimates when it earned $8.8 million, or 18 cents a share, on sales of $17.3 million.

    Five of the seven analysts tracking the stock rate it a “buy.”