A soaring first-quarter financial report from Apple Computer yesterday was coupled with news that the company's board of directors wants to send Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Steve Jobs soaring - in his own jet.

Apple posted a first-quarter net profit for fiscal 2000 of $183 million, or $1.03 per diluted share, beating analysts' estimates by 10 cents per share, the company said in a statement issued yesterday. The results for the three-month period that ended January 1, 2000, compare to a net profit of $152 million, or 95 cents per diluted share, for the same quarter a year ago. Revenue for the first quarter of fiscal 2000 was $2.34 billion, up 37 per cent from the year-ago quarter.

The report ignited Apple shares on the Nasdaq exchange, so much so that trading was halted temporarily. Apple shares shot up as high as $113.2 before closing at $106.5

Apple attributed the banner quarter to continued strong sales of the company's iMac and iBook computers. The vendor sold 1,377,000 systems, including more than 700,000 iMacs and 235,000 iBooks, Apple said. International sales accounted for 51 per cent of the quarter's revenue.

Jobs (pictured) - who recently shed his long-term interim CEO title to become Apple CEO - said in the release that his company's unit sales growth last quarter was 2.5 times higher than the industry average. He added that Apple has managed its inventory well, ending the quarter with less than one day of inventory.