Apple Inc posted stronger-than-expected quarterly earnings as sales of its iPhones and iPod topped forecasts, sending shares up 3 percent.

While the company gave a typically conservative outlook for the current quarter, with profit and revenue forecasts below Wall Street estimates, that failed to dampen enthusiasm from investors.

"It was a very strong quarter. Apple came in above on both the top and bottom lines," said Kaufman Brothers analyst Shaw Wu. "In terms of the business units, Macs were a little light of the higher end of expectations, iPods and iPhones both above expectations."

Apple said on Wednesday that its net profit rose to $1.21 billion, or $1.33 a share, in its fiscal second quarter ended March 28, from $1.05 billion, or $1.16 a share, in the year-ago quarter.

Analysts were expecting a profit of $1.09 a share, according to Reuters Estimates.

Revenue rose 8.7 percent to $8.16 billion, beating Wall Street's forecast of $7.96 billion.

In its always cautious outlook, Apple forecast earnings for the current quarter of 95 cents to $1.00 a share on revenue of $7.7 billion to $7.9 billion.
Wall Street was expecting current-quarter earnings of $1.12 a share on revenue of $8.3 billion.

"I think in a better economy our sales certainly would have been higher but ... we have just reported the best non-holiday quarter in Apple's history despite the economy that we find ourselves in," Chief Financial Officer Peter Oppenheimer told Reuters in a telephone interview.

Apple shipped 3.79 million iPhones in the March quarter, better than the roughly 3.3 million units analysts were expecting but down from 4.4 million in the December period.

The company sold 11.01 million iPods during the quarter, versus the roughly 10 million units forecast by analysts. Mac computer shipments totaled 2.22 million units, in line with expectations.

Shares of Apple closed the regular session down 25 cents at $121.51 on the Nasdaq and rose to $125.25 in extended trading.