ASSOCIATED PRESS

Apple Inc. said yesterday that its profit in the holiday quarter edged up 2 percent and beat Wall Street's expectations, buoyed in part by growing iPod sales outside the United States.

But at another tech bellwether, eBay Inc., a quarterly earnings drop of 31 percent pointed to the effects of the recession.

Apple's predictions for the current quarter came in lower than analysts were predicting, but investors seemed happy to focus on the results rather than the forecast. In extended trading after the report was released, Apple's shares jumped as high as $9.83, or 11.87 percent, to $92.66.

The first question for executives in a conference call regarded the health of chief executive officer Steve Jobs, who said a week ago he would take a six-month medical leave.

Apple gave no new details, but Tim Cook, the chief operating officer who is handling day-to-day operations in Jobs' absence, tried to assure analysts that Apple would continue to do well no matter who was in charge.

In the fiscal first quarter that ended Dec. 27, Apple's earnings rose to $1.61 billion, or $1.78 a share. In the comparable period a year earlier, profit was $1.58 billion, or $1.76 a share. Sales improved 6 percent to $10.2 billion. The results topped analysts' forecast on both counts.

Quarterly earnings fell 31 percent at eBay, indicating that its Internet auctions are being hurt by the recession just as traditional retail sales are.

EBay, based in San Jose, Calif., said yesterday that it earned $367 million, or 29 cents a share, in the quarter. That fell from $531 million, or 39 cents a share, in the year-earlier quarter.