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Fascinating. Sun Microsystems (JAVA), which has been under intense selling pressure in recent sessions, this afternoon announced preliminary results for its fiscal fourth quarter ended June which were obviously better than the Street had feared, sending the stock sharply higher.

Sun said fourth quarter revenue will be $3.725 billion to $3.8 billion, with gross margin in the 44%-45% range. Sun expects non-GAAP profits of 25-35 cents a share. The Street had been looking for $3.8 billion and 27 cents.

“In these difficult economic times, we continue to see customers across the world look to open software and hardware as a source of savings, and feel Sun is well positioned with our most robust line ever of server, storage, software and service offerings,” CEO Jonathan Schwartz said in a statement.

While the numbers are no huge surprise, the Street was clearly braced for something far worse - the stock had recently dropped to a 13-year low.

Sun will report full results on August 1.

JAVA after hours is up $1.14, or 12.95%, to $9.94.

Source: Sun Pre-Announces a Solid Outlook