Apple Computer Inc. (AAPL) on Wednesday posted a strong profit compared with a year-earlier net loss, boosted by robust sales of its popular iPod (search) digital music player and PowerBook notebook computers.

Even though Apple's profit and revenue topped forecasts, its stock fell about 5 percent in after-hours trading amid what analysts said were even rosier expectations and possible disappointment with results at other leading tech companies.

"Apple three weeks ago was at $19," said Shannon Cross, an analyst at Cross Research. "The stock had run up substantially prior to Macworld and after."

Shares of Apple rose 10 percent since Chairman and Chief Executive Steve Jobs unveiled the iPod mini on Jan. 6 and said the company had sold more than 730,000 iPods in the December quarter. Before that, shares had gained 12 percent from Dec. 19. Shares of Intel Corp. (INTC) and Yahoo Inc. (YHOO), which also reported results on Wednesday, fell in trading after the regular close of U.S. markets.

Apple is best known for its Macintosh computer, popular among graphics and creative professionals as an alternative to personal computers that run on Windows operating software from industry leader Microsoft Corp. (MSFT)

Cupertino, California-based Apple reported net income for its first quarter ended Dec. 27 of $63 million, or 17 cents, compared with a year-earlier net loss of $8 million, or 2 cents a share, which included a restructuring charge and an accounting adjustment.

Revenue rose to a four-year high of $2.01 billion from $1.47 billion a year earlier.

Excluding an after-tax investment gain of $3 million, or 1 cent per share, Apple made a per-share profit of 16 cents, matching the most optimistic forecast from Wall Street.

Analysts had forecast Apple to post a profit of 14 cents per share, on average, within a range of 13 cents to 16 cents, on revenue of $1.93 billion.

Despite the after-hours stock decline, analysts said it was a strong quarter for Apple. Sales of its PowerBook notebook computers increased 70 percent to $399 million from a year earlier, as iPod revenue more than tripled to $256 million.

"It was a good, solid quarter," said Barry Jaruzelski, lead partner in Booz Allen Hamilton's global technology and electronics practice.

Since its introduction in October 2001, the iPod has been a runaway hit, selling more than 2 million units. Apple also scored a success with its online digital music store, introduced in April 2003, and late last year Apple rolled it out to Windows users as well.

Overall Macintosh computer shipments rose 12 percent to 829,000 from 743,000 while Mac revenue climbed 15 percent to $1.27 billion from $1.10 billion, accounting for 63 percent of the company's total sales.

For the second quarter, Chief Financial Officer Fred Anderson said he expects second-quarter net earnings per share of 8 cents to 10 cents on revenue of about $1.80 billion.

Those forecasts are above the consensus per-share estimate of 7 cents, and the revenue forecast of $1.71 billion, according to Reuters Research. Profit forecasts ranged from 5 cents to 12 cents.