Altera jumps after topping 4Q estimates

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Altera Corp. (Nasdaq: ALTR) rallied up 9 1/4, or 16 percent, to a 52-week high of 68 3/4 Thursday after the chipmaker topped analysts' estimates by a penny a share in its fourth quarter.

In the quarter, Altera earned $70.4 million, or 31 cents a share, on sales of $237.3 million, topping the First Call consensus estimate of 30 cents a share.

On Thursday, CS First Boston raised its fiscal 2000 estimate to $1.92 a share from $1.80 and to $1.52 from $1.42 for 2001. It also reiterated its price target at $80 a share.

Goldman Sachs analyst Joe Moore raised his fiscal 2000 estimate to $1.50 from $1.30 a share. Goldman's rating on the stock is a "market outperformer."

Morgan Stanley raised its rating on the company's stock to a "strong buy" from "outperform."

SoundView Technology Group analyst Sudeep Balain reiterated his "strong buy" rating and increased his price target to $100 from $70.

The $237.3 million in sales represents a 28 percent improvement from the year-ago quarter when it made $42.5 million, or 21 cents a share, on sales of $172.4 million.

"Our sales growth this quarter is evidence that our momentum in the marketplace is increasing," said CEO Rodney Smith in a prepared release. "We experienced strong growth and achieved record results in all of our sales channels. New product sales growth was 25 percent and balanced across the new product families."

For the year, Altera earned $224 million, or $1.08 a share, on sales of $836.6 million compared to a profit of $154.4 million, or 78 cents a share, on sales of $654.3 million in fiscal 1998.

Altera shares fell to a 52-week low of 23 15/16 in February.