After the hype of Macworld has died down, Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple is expected to produce solid numbers Tuesday afternoon, with earnings expected to jump nearly 50 percent for its December quarter.

The consumer electronics maker is expected to post a profit of $1.5 billion, or $1.62 per share for its first quarter, up 45.1 percent over the year-ago period, according to a poll of analyst by Thompson Financial. Sales are expected to be near $9.5 billion, up over $2 billion from last year.

The numbers should put an end to a strong 2007 year for the firm.

In November it released its new Mac OS X Leopard operating system which sold 2 million copies through its first weekend and the years iconic device - the iPhone - which went on to sell 4 million units in 200 days, or 20,000 per day.

Apple's shares traded above US$200 for the first time in December, hitting a new all-time high of $200.96 before the end of the month.

A strong holiday season should also help the company as its iPod music player has remained a popular gift.

Richard Gardner, research analyst at Citi, said quarterly iPhone shipments could come in a bit below Wall Street estimates for 2.5 million devices, however, as European consumers prefer phones that operate on faster 3G networks - technology not widely deployed in the States.

This shortcoming should be remedied within one to two quarters, Gardner said.

At this year's Macworld Expo in San Francisco, Apple chief Steve Jobs also unveiled what he called the world's thinnest laptop, the Macbook Air.

Investors widely anticipated the announcement and shares initially retreated, however analyst expect the product to sell well in the long term.

Apple has 1.035 million Mac units in the U.S. in the fourth quarter of 2007, according to research released by Gartner last week, putting the firm 4th place in computer sales overall.