Apple Computer announced Wednesday that strong iMac sales led the company to its seventh consecutive profitable quarter, with a profit of $114 million on sales of $1.56 billion. This compares with the same quarter a year ago, when Apple made $101 million. Most notably, Apple wasn't yet selling the iMac at this time last year, which has bolstered the company's outlook. Half of Apple's sales come from outside the United States.

"We are delighted to report our seventh consecutive profitable quarter," said Apple "iCEO" Steve Jobs. "Apple is growing faster than the industry, driven by the continued success of iMac in our consumer and education markets."

Indeed, Apple's unit growth for the year was 40%, compared to industry average 21%. The cynical among us might note that when you're climbing up from the cellar, it's pretty easy to make strong gains. And with $3.1 billion in the bank, Apple is primed for its rumored purchase