Growth in sales of its networking and handheld computer products pushed 3Com's earnings for its first fiscal 2000 quarter to $119.3 million, or 33 cents per share - well over analysts' expectations, the company announced today.

The consensus of analysts polled by First Call was that the company's earnings for the quarter, which ended on August 27, would be about 24 cents per share.

Sales of network systems products were up nine per cent from last year's first quarter to $674.2 million, while sales of handheld computing products increased 50 per cent to $174.2 million. However, the company's sales of personal connectivity products, such as network interface cards and modems, slid 19 per cent to $539 million, 3Com said in a statement.

Last week, 3Com announced its intention to spin-off its handheld computing unit, which makes the popular Palm device, and take that company public.

Pro forma income was up 38 per cent over the pro forma net income of $86.7 million, or 24 cents per share, earned in the first quarter of the last fiscal year, 3Com said.

A $23.6 million gain from sales of investments and a net pre-tax credit of $2.1 million brought net income for the quarter to $137.5 million on sales of $1.387 billion, the company said.