Apple returned a net profit of $19 million on $1.545 billion revenues for its third 2003 quarter, exceeding analyst expectation.

Analysts had expected the company to record a profit of $0.03 per share, not $0.05 per share. The quarter ended June 28, and included the announcement of the iTunes Music Store on April 28.

The results compare to a net profit of $32 million in the year-ago quarter. Despite the fall in profit, overall revenues climbed 8 per cent year-on-year, and 5 per cent sequentially. Gross margins also climbed slightly, to 27.7 per cent from 27.4 per cent a year ago. International sales accounted for 39 per cent of revenues.

Mac shipments reached 771,000 in the quarter.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs said: "This was a great new-product quarter for Apple, starting with the iTunes Music Store and the new third-generation iPods, and ending with the announcement of the Power Mac G5 and the developer preview of Panther, the fourth major release of OS X."

He continued: "Customer response to our new products has been very strong, and this quarter we are focused on delivering Power Mac G5s beginning in August, and finishing Panther for release later this year."

Apple chief financial officer Fred Anderson said: "We are very proud to have exceeded our revenue target for the third quarter despite the difficult economic backdrop.

"We continue to be pleased with our working-capital management and our ability to increase cash which totals over $4.5 billion. Looking ahead to the fourth quarter of 2003, we expect an increase in revenues and a slight increase in earnings relative to the June quarter."