First-quarter earnings beat projections.

Apple Computer Inc.'s first-quarter earnings more than quadrupled, dramatically exceeding Wall Street expectations, based on strong holiday sales of laptop computers and its wildly popular iPod music players.

For the three months ended Dec. 25, Apple said it earned $295 million, or 70 cents per share. In the same period last year, the company earned $63 million, or 17 cents per share.

Revenue for the quarter was $3.49 billion, up nearly 75% from $2 billion in the year-ago quarter.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call had projected earnings of 49 cents a share on revenue of $3.18 billion.

"We came in quite a bit stronger than we guided, and I'd attribute that to the fantastic results of iPod," says Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer.

Apple says it shipped 4.58 million iPods in the last quarter, a 525% boost from the holiday quarter of 2003.

Before the earnings report, Apple shares climbed 90 cents, or 1.4%, to $65.46 in afternoon trading today (Jan. 12) on the Nasdaq Stock Market. In after-hours trading, the shares jumped 11% to $72.60.


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