Apple Computer Inc.'s (AAPL) shares jumped 12 percent Thursday after the computer and electronics company reported its third-quarter profit tripled from a year ago, with demand still strong for its iPod (search) digital music player.

Apple shares traded at $32.77, up $3.20, after earlier hitting a session high of $33.63 on Nasdaq. Volume of some 14 million was nearly three times its daily average.

Late Wednesday, Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple said its net income jumped to 16 cents per share from 5 cents per share, with revenue up 30 percent to $2.01 billion. Shipments of its signature Macintosh computers (search) rose 14 percent.

Wall Street analysts cheered the results on Thursday. Bear Stearns analyst Andrew Neff raised the stock to "Outperform" from "Peer Perform," citing consistent growth and execution, the potential for strength from "multiple, synchronized product cycles," and leadership in the high-growth music category.

"While there is some near-term risk from G5 (personal computer) processor constraints ... and we still have long-term concerns about Apple's "hit-driven," proprietary model, we think Apple shares should outperform in the second half of 2004 in light of its consumer exposure and number of positive catalysts," he said in a note to clients.

First Albany Capital analyst Joel Wagonfeld upgraded the stock to "buy" from "neutral."

"We have greater confidence in Apple's ability to sustain revenue growth and capitalize on operating leverage in its model," he said in a note.