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UPDATE 1-NetApp results beat estimates on higher storage equipment sales

(Adds forecast, shares, analyst comment and details)

Aug 13 (Reuters) - NetApp Inc reported better-than-expected first-quarter results as sales of its branded storage equipment rose, sending its shares up as much as 3 percent after the bell.

Increased sales of products sold under the NetApp brand assuaged some investors' concerns that the company was losing business to newer flash-based storage technology vendors such as Nimble Storage Inc and Pure Storage.

Some of NetApp's business customers have also held back spending on hardware to evaluate flash and web-based storage and software that can store data on commodity hardware.

NetApp's branded product revenue, which accounts for 91 percent of total revenue, rose 0.7 percent in the quarter ended July 25.

"The main thing here again is ... branded revenue is going to continue improving on a year-over-year trajectory and I think a lot of investors were doubtful to whether or not that would happen," Technology Insights Research analyst Nehal Chokshi told Reuters.

The company, which competes with EMC Corp, said it expects current-quarter adjusted profit of 66-71 cents per share on revenue of $1.49-$1.59 billion.

Analysts were expecting a second-quarter adjusted profit of 69 cents per share on revenue of $1.53 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

NetApp's net income rose to $88 million, or 27 cents per share, in the first quarter ended July 25, from $82 million, or 23 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding items, the company earned 60 cents per share beating the average analyst estimate of 57 cents per share.

Revenue fell about 2 percent to $1.49 billion, but topped the average Wall Street estimate of $1.47 billion.

Adjusted gross margins rose to 64.3 percent from 61.3 percent a year earlier.

The company also said it would pay a dividend of $0.165 per share to be paid on Oct. 22.

NetApp's shares were marginally up at $39.43 after the bell.

(Additional reporting by Lehar Maan; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)