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IPods, Laptops, And PowerMac G5s Boost Apple

4Q revenue rose 19% from the year-ago quarter and net income was $44 million, a big swing from a loss of $45 million a year earlier.
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) -- Boosted by strong sales of its popular music player and new computers, Apple Computer Inc. reported Wednesday fourth-quarter earnings that narrowly beat Wall Street expectations.

For the three months ended Sept. 27, Cupertino-based Apple said it earned $44 million, or 12 cents per share, compared with a net loss of $45 million, or 13 cents per share, in the same period last year.

Excluding a $6 million after-tax investment gain and a $9 million gain from a stock repurchasing agreement, Apple said it would have earned $29 million, or 8 cents per share.

Revenue for the quarter was $1.7 billion, up 19 percent from $1.44 billion a year ago.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call had projected earnings of 7 cents a share on revenue of $1.67 billion.

Apple's chief financial officer Fred Anderson attributed the increase in revenue--the company's highest level for a quarter in three years--to record sales of the iPod music player and strong sales of its new 15-inch laptop and Power Mac G5 computers.

Anderson also said Apple's retail stores became profitable for the first time, earning $1 million on $193 million in sales.

So far, Apple has seen reasonable success with its groundbreaking music products, specifically the iTunes Music Store and iPod player, but analysts say increasing competition will potentially limit Apple's profitability in the future and that of others in the industry.

Still, Apple shares have enjoyed a stock boost since the April 28 launch of the online music store, skyrocketing from around $13 to more than $20. Before it released earnings, Apple shares rose 27 cents to close at $24.82 on the Nasdaq Stock Market.

Much anticipation surrounds Apple's expected launch Thursday of the Windows-version of the music store.

Apple earlier reported that the online store had sold more than 10 million songs while serving only Macintosh users, which make up about 3 percent of the personal computer market. Anderson declined to give an iTunes update, saying chief executive Steve Jobs will release all the details Thursday.

For the fiscal year, Apple reported income of $69 million on revenues of $6.21 billion, compared to earnings of $65 million on revenues of $5.74 billion in 2002.

For the current quarter, Anderson said Apple expects a "slight sequential increase" in earnings and revenues to be about $1.9 billion.