According to financial site Bloomberg, Apple is set to post a 69 percent jump in quarterly profit when it reports results later today.

The site says record buying of the iPad and Mac hardware made up for weaker demand for the aging iPhone 4.

According to the average prediction of analysts in a Bloomberg survey, profit rose to $5.5 billion in the fiscal third quarter, which ended June 25,. Sales gained an estimated 59 percent to $25 billion.

The survey, which matched other analysts optimistic forecasts, explained that the company had benefited from the March debut of the iPad 2. According to analysts surveyed by Bloomberg, Apple sold 7.7 million units of the tablet last quarter, topping the previous three-month sales record of 7.3 million, set during the US holiday shopping season.

The site quoted one analyst, Charlie Wolf of Needham & Co: "All I had to do is walk past the Apple store on my way to work each morning and there were lines down the street for at least a month after the iPad 2 launch," said Wolf. "This quarter may end up being fairly mild for the iPhone."

Apple iPad2

As customers await the next iPhone, sales of the handset may drop 8.3 percent to 17.1 million from the prior quarter, according to the average estimate of 16 analysts compiled by Bloomberg.

The site also drew on reports that Apple is set to introduce a new iPhone with a stronger chip for processing data and an 8-megapixel camera in September, though an Apple spokesman, Steve Dowling, unsurprisingly declined to comment to Bloomberg. The iPhone 4, with a 5-megapixel camera, sold 1.7 million units in its first three days on sale at the end of the June quarter a year ago. Unit sales have risen four straight quarters and in all but three of the past 10 quarters.

Even without a new model, some of Bloomberg's surveryed analysts are predicting record iPhone sales. Mark Moskowitz of JPMorgan Chase & Co. said Apple may sell 19.6 million handsets, up from the 8.4 million the company sold during the third quarter last year and the previous record of 18.7 million in the second quarter.

Bloomberg's source Charlie Wolf also noted that demand for iPads hasn't been hurt by the release of rival tablet computers from electronics companies, including Samsung, Motorola Mobility and Research In Motion (RIM), In fact, according to market research firms Gartner and IDC, global personal-computer shipments came in less than forecast during the second quarter, in part because of consumer demand for Apple's iPad.

The only exception was Apple's Mac computers - as sales of the iPhone and iPad brought in new customers. According to Gartner, Apple leapfrogged Acer and Toshiba to become the third-largest U.S. maker of PCs in the second-quarter. Bloomberg also quoted Tony Sacconaghi, an analyst at Stanford C. Bernstein & Co., who predicted 4.26 million Macs sold, more than the 4.13 million record set in the fiscal first quarter.

Bloombege said analysts were also focussing on gross margins, or the percent of sales remaining after deducting the cost of production. The site quoted Andy Hargreaves, an analyst at Pacific Crest Securities in Portland, Oregon, who said the figure would provide an indication of how much Apple spent on components and manufacturing for the iPad, as well as the impact of a patent settlement with Nokia Oyj on iPhone profit.

Apple said in April that third-quarter gross margins would be 38 percent, down from 41.4 in the second quarter. Analysts surveyed by Bloomberg project 39.2 percent for the quarter.

After Apple stock's record day of trading yesterday, shares in the company rose $3.21 to a record $377.01 at 9:34 am this morning (New York time) in Nasdaq Stock Market trading.

The release of the new iPhone, along with a new model MacBook Air laptop computer, will push Apple's stock higher in the second-half of the year, Bloomberg source Moskowitz said. The releases will boost investor interest in Apple, he said in a research note.

"The return of the wow factor and new product cycles should jettison the fear that had been dogging valuation the last couple of months," Moskowitz added.