In rare miss, Apple's fourth-quarter earnings miss Wall Street expectations.

First Posted: 10/18/11 05:45 PM ET Updated: 12/18/11 05:12 AM ET

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Apple Inc. failed to set a new sales record in the last three months of founder and CEO Steve Jobs' life. Its financial results came in below expectations on Tuesday — a rare miss for the company.

After several record quarters, the July-to-September period saw Apple biding its time, with no new iPhone or iPad releases.

Earnings and revenue rose from last year at rates that would be the envy of any large company, but investors had expected the seemingly unstoppable company to do even better.

Net income in the fiscal fourth quarter was $6.62 billion, or $7.05 per share. That was up 54 per cent from $4.31 billion, or $4.64 per share, a year ago.

Analysts polled by FactSet were expecting earnings of $7.28 per share.

Revenue was $28.3 billion, up 39 per cent. Analysts were expecting $29.4 billion.

Apple sold 17.1 million iPhones in the quarter, which ended Sept. 24. That was well below analyst expectations and the 20.3 million sold in the third quarter.

IPhone buyers had been holding off and waiting for the new model that was launched last week, after the end of the quarter. Still, analysts expected the older models to keep much of their appeal.

Laptops were Apple's strongest category in the quarter, with sales up 30 per cent from the previous quarter thanks to the release of a new operating system, Lion. Total Mac sales set an all-time record at 4.9 million.

Apple's forecast for the current quarter was more pleasing to investors. It said it expects earnings of $9.30 per share and revenue of $37 billion. Apple usually low-balls its forecasts, and analyst figures are usually higher. But in this case, analysts have had lower figures, expecting earnings of $9 per share and revenue of $36.7 billion.

Jobs relinquished his position as CEO in August, after going on medical leave in January. He died Oct. 5 after years of battling pancreatic cancer.

Apple's stock was down $24.33, or 5.8 per cent, at $397.91 in afterhours trading, losing one week of gains. At the close of regular trading, it was the world's most valuable company, but the stock drop means it's yielding the position to Exxon Mobil Corp.

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