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Updated from Oct. 18

Shares of


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climbed higher Thursday, a day after the company blew by Wall Street's fourth-quarter earning expectations and said it grew revenue a robust 31%.

Apple's first-quarter guidance, as it often is, was conservative, undershooting Street expectations significantly. But investors, knowing that Apple tends to set the bar rather low, bid shares up after the Wednesday afternoon announcement.

On Thursday, shares were up $4.56, or 6.1%, to $79.09.

The computer maker posted a quarterly profit of $546 million, or 62 cents a share, compared with $430 million, or 50 cents, a year ago. Revenue was $4.84 billion, compared with $3.68 billion.

Analysts polled by Thomson First Call were forecasting a profit of just 51 cents a share on revenue of $4.66 billion.

Two closely watched metrics also exceeded expectations. Sales of the company's iPod music player were up 35% in the quarter to 8.7 million, while Mac computer sales soared 30% to 1.6 million.

Earlier this year, Apple moved its computer lineup over to


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processors. Formerly, they ran on PowerPC chips made by

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Apple executives said Wednesday that the transition to the x-86 line of microprocessors, which have powered PCs by other manufacturers for years, is now complete and was a factor in the stronger-than-expected sales of personal computers.

iPod sales, CFO Peter Oppenheimer said during the conference call with analysts, were helped by price cuts. Both product lines were helped by a robust back-to-school season, he said.

Gross margin was 29.2%, up from 28.1% in the year-ago quarter, largely because of changes in product mix, the company said.

Looking to the December, or first quarter, the company said revenue will range from $6 billion to $6.2 billion with a profit of 70 cents to 73 cents a share. Analysts were looking for sales of $6.4 billion and a profit of 77 cents a share. The first quarter of last year contained an extra week, Oppenheimer said, making the comparison a bit tougher than it might have been.

Apple said an independent committee has completed a review of the company's process for granting options and found 15 instances of apparent backdating. As a result, Apple will likely need to restate its historical financial statements to record various related charges, the company said.

The backdating issue worried investors because there was some fear that CEO Steve Jobs could be forced to resign. But that possibility, which was never strong, seems to have receded even further. And Apple said there was no wrongdoing by current members of the executive team.

However, several top executives, including former CFO Fred Anderson,

left the company in the wake of the scandal. The restatement could affect results in the just-reported quarter.