Apple Computer Inc. on Tuesday reported third-quarter sales and revenues that rose from the prior quarter, keeping the PC icon's promise to accelerate a turnaround despite tough times for the industry. 

But Apple raised the possibility that revenue for the second half of its fiscal year concluding in the current quarter could fall short of its earlier forecast because of the economic slowdown, an implied warning that sent its shares lower in after-hours trade. 

Apple reported net profits of $61 million, or 17 cents per diluted share, about the midpoint of analysts' forecasts, compared with $200 million or 55 cents per share in the quarter a year ago and $40 million, or 11 cents per share, on an adjusted basis in the prior quarter. 

Sales rose to $1.475 billion from the previous quarter's $1.43 billion but fell from the $1.83 billion reported in the third quarter a year ago. 

Analysts polled by research firm Thomson Financial/First Call had expected Apple to earn 6-26 cents per share, with a consensus of 15 cents, on sales of $1.6 billion. 

Apple shares, up 69 percent this year, have been among the best performing in the computer industry and have outperformed number one personal computer maker Dell Computer Corp. But the stock fell in after-hours trade on Instinet in reaction to the earnings report, dropping to $22.75 from a Nasdaq close Tuesday of $25.10. 

The company had previously forecast second-half sales of $3.2 billion to $3.4 billion, putting revenue for the year at $5.6 billion to $5.8 billion. 

But in an interview with Reuters, Chief Financial Officer Fred Anderson would only forecast a ``number north of around $3 billion plus'' for the second half, citing tough economic conditions. 

Apple's third quarter results included a $7 million after-tax gain from equity investment gains which was offset by a $7 million charge related to its acquisition of PowerSchool Inc., a Web-based student information system.