Apple surpassed Wall Street expectations and confirmed continued iPod - and Mac - sales momentum in its third quarter results. The company announced a US$320 million profit.

In the face of speculation, Apple confirmed the best financial quarter in the company's history.

Revenue reached $3.5 billion, a year-on-year climb of 75 per cent (from $2.01 billion). Analysts estimates from Thomson First Call carried consensus estimates of $3.33 billion in revenue.

Net income rose dramatically, too. This climbed 425 per cent, year-on-year, to reach a $320 million profit. The company earned $61 million in the same quarter one year ago. Earnings per share were $0.37, six cents higher than expectations.

"We are delighted to report Apple's best quarter ever in both revenue and earnings," said Apple CEO Steve Jobs.

iPod halo shines

Apple's music player saw a 616 per cent year-on-year climb in sales, with 6.155 million units shipped.

The anticipated "iPod halo" may also have appeared: Mac unit sales climbed 35 per cent (year-on-year), with 1,182,000 million Macs shipped.

Gross margin was 29.7 per cent, up from 27.8 per cent in the year-ago quarter. International sales accounted for 39 per cent of the quarter's revenue.

Watch this space

Apple CEO Steve Jobs revealed the launch of Mac OS X 10.4 to have been well-received ("a great success"), adding: "We have more amazing new products in the pipeline."

Apple chief financial officer Peter Oppenheimer kept a consistent outlook for the coming quarter: "Looking ahead to the fourth quarter of fiscal 2005, we expect revenue of about $3.5 billion and earnings per diluted share of about $.32."

The announcement is available as a QuickTime webcast.