DURHAM, N.C. — Semiconductor and light-emitting diode manufacturer Cree beat Wall Street profit estimates by a penny for its fiscal first quarter.

The news ignited a near-7 percent jump in Cree shares in after-hours trading to $23.60.

Cree (Nasdaq: CREE) reported a profit of 17 cents, 1 cent higher than projected by analysts polled by Thomson First Call, on revenues of $103.9 million. Analysts predicted $104 million in revenue.

Still, profits declined sharply from 28 cents per share, or $21.7 million, for the same quarter in 2005. Overall revenues were up 1 percent over last year.

“Q1 was a solid quarter for Cree, as we delivered earnings at the high end of our previously announced target range,” said Chuck Swoboda, Cree’s chairman and chief executive officer.

He described short-term market conditions as “challenging,” however.

Cree forecast second quarter revenues to be between $105 million and $109 million with profits of between 14 cents and 17 cents per share.

Cree shares closed down 41 cents at $22.09 on Thursday.

Cree: www.cree.com