For the second consecutive quarter, Iomega Corp. has distanced itself from the financial abyss it once called home.

"This is a giant step forward," Iomega Treasurer Tracy Welch said Thursday, following the release of the company's first quarter earnings report. "This is our second profitable quarter in a row. And for a first quarter, this is a record for us."

The Roy-based company specializes in removable computer storage products, led by its flagship Zip data storage drive. Thursday, it reported net income of $51.8 million for the quarter ended March 26, compared to $600,000 during the same period last year. Excluding a $20.1 million gain the company attributes to deferred tax assets, the company earned $31.7 million, or 12 cents per share.

The report surprised Wall Street's First Call consensus, which predicted Iomega would earn 4 cents per share. First Call anticipates the company will earn 24 cents a share in the fiscal year, according to the ZDNet Interactive Investor Web site.

Also following the earnings released, brokerage firm Salomon Smith Barney raised its second quarter estimate of the company's stock price. Originally predicted to increase 3 cents per share during the second quarter, the firm adjusted its estimate to 7 cents per share.

"We have left our other estimates unchanged but have increased confidence in them," the firm stated.

Iomega's revenues dipped $41.3 million vs. the first quarter 1999, a fact with which newly appointed President and CEO Bruce Albertson was not satisfied.

"While I am pleased with our bottom-line results and resolve to maintain our profit focus, I am disappointed with our revenue decline," Albertson said in a prepared statement. "I think that while there are still challenges ahead, there are significant opportunities for growth."

The company took a heavy hit at year's end, when nearly $200 million in losses from 1998 and 1999 could no longer be treated as assets in the company's books.

Having taken the hit and survived, Welch said the company is stronger.

"Now, our pre-tax income and the bottom line will almost be the same thing," he said. "For our shareholders, that's a great thing, because it means that more of the company's earnings will go to them, rather than to Uncle Sam."

Iomega's celebration Thursday was hard-fought. The company witnessed its stock plunge during the mid-1990s from nearly $30 per share to less than $3.

Plagued by inconsistent leadership, corporate inefficiencies, the reliance on a single successful product and a public relations nightmare involving company rebates sent Iomega stock into a spiral that seemed to have no bottom.

Thursday, Welch said the company has found some answers: corporate restructurings, a new leader in Albertson, cost-cutting measures generating $60 million in savings.

"We think we've definitely turned Iomega around," he said.

But Albertson said there is more to do yet.

"This record quarter will be tough to beat, but we are focused on remaining profitable each and every quarter. At the same time, we plant to invest in people, R&D (research and development) and marketing and sales to stop the decline in revenue."

Iomega's earnings announcement came after the stock market closed with stock trading at $4 per share. It was down in early trading Friday at $3.75.