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Shares in Apple Computer fell in after-hours trading on Wednesday after the company’s forecasts for the second quarter failed to meet Wall Street expectations.

Apple, which last week announced that soaring sales of the iPod personal music player had propelled the computer maker to the best year in its history, said it expected second-quarter earnings of 38 cents a share, less than the 48 cents a share and $4.6bn in revenues most analysts were expecting.

Steve Jobs, Apple’s chief executive, was undimmed: “We are thrilled to report the best quarter in Apple’s history,” he said, confirming his earlier statements that the company had sold 14 million iPods over the period, a 207 per cent increa`mse over the year-ago quarter. “We are working on more wonderful products in 2006, and I can’t wait to see what our customers think of them.”

Apple said it made a net profit of $565m in the first quarter, or 65 cents a share, compared with a profit of $295m and earnings of 35 cents a share one year ago.

First-quarter revenues rose to a record $5.75bn from $3.49bn.

The company said it shipped more than 14m iPods and 1.3m Macintosh computers over the period.

Apple’s shares fell 2.6 per cent on Wednesday ahead of the announcement, which came after the closing bell. They fell a further 6 per cent to $77.50 in after-hours trading. The shares were among the best performers on the stock market last year.

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