Apple Computer ( AAPL), well known in recent years for its sleekly designed iMac computers, edged past analysts' estimates Tuesday, recording a 43% rise in its third-quarter earnings. The Cupertino, Calif.-based computer company reported a net profit of $163 million, or 45 cents a share, up from $114 million, or 35 cents a share in the same period last year. Apple narrowly beat Wall Street's earnings estimate of 44 cents a share for the latest quarter, according to First Call/Thomson Financial.
Those earnings figures, though, exclude a gain of $37 million, or 10 cents a share, from Apple's sale of shares of ARM Holdings. Including that gain, Apple's net income rose to $200 million, or 55 cents a share. Revenues rose 17%, to $1.83 billion, from $1.56 billion a year earlier. The positive earnings announcement comes a day ahead of a highly anticipated keynote speech by Steve Jobs, Apple's chief executive. Jobs is expected to highlight his company's latest products Wednesday at the MacWorld Expo in New York. Many industry analysts are eagerly awaiting news about new Apple software and hardware, especially enhancements to the computer maker's PowerMac and its iMac line, which has posted sluggish sales growth lately. Apple said it sold nearly 450,000 iMac systems in the quarter, and Jobs said in a statement that his company had shipped 3.7 million iMacs since they were introduced. "The question is not whether they'll upgrade" iMac, said Andrew Neff, an analyst with Bear Stearns in New York. "It's how are they going to do it. It's not the cake; It's the icing." "We're only getting part of the story today," Neff continued. "We're looking for something really innovative tomorrow -- something where we say, oh wow, that's really cool." A strong earnings projection and a looming MacWorld trade show, however, failed to stimulate Apple's stock Tuesday. Although Apple's shares rebounded after dipping as low as 56 7/8, the company's stock closed Tuesday at 57 1/4, down 1 1/16, or 1.8%.