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Network Appliance slips past 4Q forecasts

Network Appliance slipped past Street estimates in its fourth quarter Thursday, pocketing $24.5 million, or 7 cents a share, on sales of $200 million.

First Call Corp. consensus expected it to earn 6 cents a share in the quarter.

The $200 million in sales marks a 120 percent improvement compared to the year-ago quarter when it made $10.7 million, or 3 cents a share, on sales of $90.8 million.

Ahead of the earnings report, Network Appliance (Nasdaq: NTAP) shares closed up 1/4 to 69.

For the fiscal year, Network Appliance raked in $73.8 million, or 21 cents a share, on sales of $579.3 million, a jump of 100 percent from fiscal 1999 when it earned $35.6 million, or 11 cents a share, on sales of $289.4 million.

"Global storage demand continued to accelerate throughout the fiscal year, as companies transformed their enterprise systems and deployed network storage infrastructures powered by Network Appliance," said CEO Dan Warmenhoven in a prepared release. "We increased customer mind share and industry market share by proving that network-based appliance solutions from NetApp are superior in performance, interoperability and total cost of ownership."

Last quarter, Network Appliance earned $19.8 million, or 11 cents a share, on sales of $151.3 million.

Its shares moved up to a 52-week high of 124 in March after bottoming out at 9 13/16 in June.

Sixteen of the 17 analysts tracking the stock rate it either a "buy" or "strong buy."