Harman International Industries Inc., the maker of Infinity, JBL, Mark Levinson and Harman Kardon high-end stereo equipment often found in upmarket cars, on Wednesday posted record earnings in its fourth quarter that beat Wall Street estimates by 8 cents per share, according to the Associated Press (AP).

In the three months ended June 30, Harman reportedly earned $US53 million, or 76 cents per share, a 42% increase from year-ago earnings of $37.4 million, or 55 cents per share. Analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call had predicted earnings of 68 cents per share.

AP said sales rose 17% in the quarter to $732 million from $623.3 million a year earlier, paced by a 25% jump in revenue at the company’s consumer systems group. The consumer segment makes loudspeakers, audio electronics and radio/navigation systems for cars, home audio, video applications and computers.

Harman shares rose $2.82, or 3.5%, to $83.06 in afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange, bringing them close to the record high above $92 a share set in June.

“Infotainment system sales to automotive customers were strong as we successfully launched several new programmes,” chairman Sidney Harman said in a press release cited by the Associated Press. The company received two contracts from DaimlerChrysler during the quarter for navigation and “infotainment” systems that combine audio, video, navigation, cellular telephone and internet access. Its products are also used in Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi automobiles.

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For fiscal 2004, Harman’s profit reportedly rose 50% to $157.9 million, or $2.27 per share, from $105.4 million, or $1.55 per share, a year ago. Analysts had been expecting earnings for the year of $2.20 per share. Full-year sales rose 22% to $2.7 billion from $2.2 billion in 2003, AP added.