Western Digital's ( WDC) second-quarter earnings slid from a year ago, as the company's research spending rose at about twice the rate of revenue. Still, earnings beat Wall Street estimates and the shares surged after hours. The hard drive supplier earned $56 million, or 26 cents a share, in the quarter, compared with earnings of $68.8 million, or 32 cents a share, last year. Revenue rose 14% from a year ago to $954.9 million, while the company's research and development expense jumped 36% to $59.7 million. Analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call had predicted earnings of 18 cents a share on revenue of $902.7 million in the 2004 quarter. The stock was recently up 78 cents, or 7.4%, to $11.30 on Instinet. Western Digital said it shipped about 1.6 million drives for consumer electronics applications in the quarter, about triple its year-ago level. "The demand for hard drives in all segments was strong, especially in desktop and consumer electronics applications," the company said.