Apple shares declined almost 10 per cent last night, as Wall Street welcomed the company's most successful quarter in its history.

Investors chose to sell shortly after Apple revealed its news. In the after hours market the company saw share values decline to $46.60 from $51.59 (down 9.67 per cent).

Though Apple beat its own announced financial performance targets, analysts had expected even higher revenue and gross income from the company.

Mac sales climb, margins rise

Mac sales climbed, prompting US Global Investor analyst Romeo Dator to say: "It looks like they're still getting some halo effect."

Gross margins reached 28.1 per cent from 27 per cent a year ago.

iPod estimates also failed to be realised, though a record-breaking quantity of iPods was sold in the quarter.

iPod sales climb 300%, still disappoint

Analysts had expected Apple to shift between 7.5-8.5 million iPods. Apple sold 6.5 million in the quarter, accounting for nearly a third of company revenue and three times the quantity sold in the year-ago quarter.

Net profit hit $430m, from $106m in the year ago quarter. Revenues rose 56 per cent to $3.68 billion, but analysts had expected $3.74 billion.

"We're thrilled to have concluded the best year in Apple's history," said Apple CEO Steve Jobs.

"Expectations for Apple's results were pretty high and they needed to beat estimates for us to see a boost in the stock," Jim Fisher of Univest Wealth Management told the BBC.

World markets reel in Apple shadow

Analyst Shaw Wu of American Technology Research - who has offered some of the most bullish Apple forecasts - said: "When you're such a class act, it's hard to keep it going. I think investors got a little too excited, the stock got too high, and the stock is just trying to correct itself now."

The impact of this stock correction is being felt worldwide this morning, with Far East and European markets opening down, impacted by the rapid ten per cent decline in this year's top-performing Nasdaq stock.

Apple expects next/first quarter sales of $4.7 billion, confirmed Apple chief financial officer Peter Oppenheimer: "We're looking for continued growth for the company," he said.