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Apple earnings up 12 percent for the third quarter

The company records the best nonholiday revenues for the second straight quarter. It also sees the first yearly drop in iPod sales, a decline of 7 percent.

Apple reported on Tuesday third-quarter earnings higher than analysts had expected, but provided its usual conservative guidance.

Revenue came in at $8.34 billion, resulting in earnings of $1.35 per share. That's a 12 percent increase from a year ago, when Apple reported earnings of $7.46 billion and earnings per share of $1.19.

The numbers for the quarter were even better than what analysts had predicted: They were expecting $1.17 in earnings per share and revenues of $8.2 billion.

Apple also beat most analysts' expectations of its unit sales in its core businesses for the quarter. The company sold 2.6 million Macs, up 4 percent from a year ago, and 5.2 million iPhones, a 626 percent leap from a year ago. And even though the company's 10.2 million iPods sold during the quarter was better than expected, it's also Apple's first yearly drop in iPod sales, declining 7 percent.

The quarter ended June 27 is the best nonholiday quarter in terms of revenue and earnings for Apple--a bar that had been newly set during the previous quarter. Apple again guided conservatively for the fourth quarter of 2009, saying it expects revenue between $8.7 billion and $8.9 billion on earnings per share between $1.18 to $1.23.

Apple's earnings equate to more good news for the tech sector: last week had Intel, Dell, and IDC's survey of the PC market all pointing to signs of recovery. We'll have more details and will see what Apple executives and analysts have to say on the earnings call at 2 p.m.

For more on Apple earnings, check out further analysis here.