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Altera beats 3Q forecasts

    Altera (Nasdaq: ALTR) edged past analyst estimates in the third quarter.

    After market close Wednesday, the maker of programmable chips reported third quarter earnings of $55.6 million, or 27 cents per share. First Call's survey of 23 analysts predicted a profit 26 cents per share for the September quarter.

    Third quarter sales increased of $215.1 million, up 9 percent sequentially and up 31 percent year-over-year. New product revenues gained 37 percent from the second quarter and 205 percent from the year-ago period as they generated a third of Altera's sales. Mainstream products made up 35 percent of Altera's revenue, and grew 1 percent sequentially and 27 percent year-over-year. Old product sales fell 5 percent from the second quarter.

    "We are very pleased with our performance in the third quarter," said Rodney Smith, president and CEO. "Altera achieved record sales results in each of our sales channels and the growth of new products surpassed our expectations."

    Net income for the third quarter included $2.8 million in after-tax charges stemming from Altera's share of the WaferTech start-up.

    Shares of Altera fell 5/16 to 42 3/8 in Wednesday's regular trading prior to the earnings report. Of 24 Wall Street firms surveyed by Zack's Investment Research, 14 maintain the equivalent of "moderate buy" ratings on Altera, six recommend the stock as a "strong buy", and four have "hold" advisories.>