Sun Microsystems (SUNW) - Get Report reported record fourth-quarter earnings Thursday that beat analysts' estimates, driven by continued growth in market share for networking hardware and software related to the exponential expansion of the Internet.

In the fourth quarter -- Sun's second fiscal quarter -- income jumped 27% compared to the previous year. That amounted to net income of $353 million, or about 21 cents a share. Analysts surveyed by

First Call/Thomson Financial

had projected 20 cents a share.

Fourth-quarter revenue totaled $3.6 billion, up 27% compared with the same period in 1998.

For the six-months ended Dec. 26, Sun income was up 34% from the prior year at $629 million, or 38 cents a share. Excluding acquisition-related charges, earnings for the six-month period were 37 cents a share.

Sun CEO Scott McNealy said the company's name and products continue to "set the agenda in the 'dot com' era." The company noted particularly strong demand for workgroup network servers, high-end servers and services related to those products.

The company reported that its balance sheet is stronger than ever, with about $4.5 billion in cash.

Sun Microsystems shares closed Thursday trading up 3 5/8, or 4.4%, at 86 9/16.