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Updated from 5:12 p.m. EDT

Seagate Technology

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handily beat its own fourth-quarter earnings forecast as it turned from a year-ago loss to a 55-cent-a-share profit.

The hard-drive maker reported revenue of $2.18 billion and net income of $280 million, compared with sales of $1.34 billion, and a net loss of $33 million, or 7 cents a share, in the year-ago quarter.

However, demand has been so strong for Seagate and its competitors that shortages of capacity and materials will likely hold down sales in the September quarter, the company said. Wall Street reacted to the mildly disappointing revenue guidance by pushing the stock down 18 cents, or 3%, to $18.82 after hours on Instinet.

Seagate, which announced its results after the close of trading on Tuesday, said it shipped a record 27.3 million disk drives in the quarter, a year-over-year increase of 49%. Revenue in the quarter was also a record.

The company said it was surprised by the strength of the June quarter, which is traditionally a relatively slow one. The Scotts Valley, Calif.-based company said in March that it expected to earn 45 cents a share in the June quarter, and then raised its earnings guidance by a nickel on June 8, saying it expected to see revenue of $2.1 billion and earnings per share of 50 cents for the quarter ended July 1. Taken as a whole, Seagate bettered its original guidance by 10 cents a share.

Before Tuesday's earnings announcement, analysts polled by Thomson First Call were expecting EPS of 51 cents on sales of $2.1 billion.

Although sales were generally strong, the company credited the continuing boom in sales of drives for use in consumer electronics devices for its current growth spurt. "The holiday season is either here early, or maybe it never ended," said CFO Charles Pope during a conference call following the announcement.

The company shipped 6.2 million drives for use in digital video recorders, handheld and gaming applications during the quarter, an increase of 222% over the year-ago quarter.

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Looking to the current, or first quarter, Seagate said it expects "substantial year-over-year growth in the September quarter with revenue and earnings to be comparable to the record levels of revenue and income from operations reported for the June quarter."

That would represent revenue growth of about 40 percent, implying revenue of about $2.18 billion, and a 393% increase in operating income from the year-ago period, Seagate said.

Analysts were expecting a bit more on the revenue side -- $2.19 billion, which may explain the after-hours loss. The company did not give earnings guidance, but analysts were projecting a 54-cent profit.

For the fiscal full year ended July 1, the company reported a profit of $707 million, or $1.41 per diluted share. That compares with net income of $529 million, or $1.06 cents a diluted share, and revenue of $7.55 billion a year ago.

Shares of Seagate and its major competitors,




Western Digital

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, swooned in mid-June on rumors that the hard-drive industry was going into one of its periodic price wars, but it appears that the concern was overblown. In fact, the company said that prices in the June quarter increased sequentially by $1 on a blended basis.