Apple reported a fourth-quarter profit, before investment gains, of 30 cents per share yesterday – slightly below analysts' expectations.

This follows last month's profit warning from the company. Net profit before investment gains was $108 million, an increase of 20 per cent from the same quarter a year ago, Apple said.

Revenue for the fourth quarter, which ended September 30, was $1.87 billion, up 40 per cent from a year ago and in line with Apple's revised estimates.

Share sale The income figure above excludes a $62 million after-tax gain from the sale of shares in ARM Holdings, which contributed 17 cents to earnings per share. Including investment gains, the company reported a net profit of $170 million, or 47 cents per share, compared with a net profit of $111 million, or 31 cents per share a year ago.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs said: "We have identified several factors which we believe contributed to our sales shortfall last quarter, and we are taking strong steps to remedy them going forward."

The company expects more disappointment during the first fiscal quarter of 2001, as it tries to sell off excess inventory in its channel, Apple officials said in the statement. The company said it hopes its finances will be back on track by January.

Targets Before last month's profit warning, analysts had expected Apple to report a gain of 45 cents a share for the quarter. Those estimates were revised and analysts had expected Apple to profit by 31 cents a share, according to First Call/Thomson Financial.

Gross margins for the quarter were 25 per cent, down from 28.7 per cent last year, Apple said. International sales accounted for 44 per cent of revenue.

When it issued its earnings warning, Apple also said it was lowering its growth targets for next quarter and the next fiscal year. Apple is expected to lay out those expectations later today.