Semiconductor giant Intel and computer firm Apple have unveiled stronger than expected results, in a sign that the tech sector recovery remains on track.
Intel sets the tone for the tech sector
Intel said profits for the final three months of 2003 nearly doubled to $2.2bn (£1.4bn), or 33 cents a share.
The figure comfortably outstripped the 22 cents a share pencilled in by Wall Street forecasters.
Apple said profits came in at $63m, or 17 cents a share, over the same period, up from an $8m loss one year earlier.
That also beat Wall Street forecasts, with most analysts expecting profits in the order of 15 cents a share.
Apple's strong performance partly reflected buoyant sales of its iconic iPod digital music player, which helped lift total revenues 36% to $2.01bn.
Apple chief executive Steve Jobs said the firm's performance had been "outstanding."
The iPod has revitalised Apple
Apple shares were down 5% in after hours trading as investors took profits following a strong run-up earlier in the day.
Intel said steadily improving demand had lifted sales by 22% on the year to £8.74bn, a new quarterly record.
"We ended the year on a high note as ongoing strength in emerging markets coupled with improving demand in established markets drove revenue to record levels," said Intel chief executive Craig Barrett.
However, the firm warned that sales may decline in the current three month period, wiping 2% off its share price shortly after the close.
Intel, the world's biggest producer of microchips which power computers and mobile phones, is seen as a bellwether for the entire technology sector.
Its stronger performance coincides with a broad-based recovery in the technology sector following the collapse of the dot.com bubble nearly four years ago.
Yahoo ads boost
Technology stocks were among the best performers on Wall Street in 2003, with the Nasdaq share index climbing by over 40% during the course of the year.
Another beneficiary of the tech sector turnaround was internet service provider Yahoo, which on Wednesday turned in a 62% rise in fourth quarter profits, crediting continued growth in online advertising.
Profits rose to $75m, in line with Wall Street forecasts, while sales more than doubled to $664m.
But Yahoo shares also lost ground, falling $2.81 to $46.58 in after hours trade as investors registered disappointment at the firm's failure to exceed their expectations.