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Apple Inc.'s (AAPL) fiscal third-quarter earnings climbed 21% as the consumer electronics giant continued to see stronger iPhone and iPad sales, though overall earnings and revenue grew less than analysts had expected. Shares sank 5.5% to $568 in recent after-hours trading. The technology bellwether had posted results above Wall Street estimates in the prior two quarters, thanks to strong demand for its smartphone and tablet computer. In the latest period, Apple sold 26 million iPhone units, up 28% from a year earlier. Analysts expect Apple will launch its next iPhone in the fall, about a year after its 4S model. Apple sold 17 million iPad units in the most recent quarter, an 84% year-over-year increase. The company began selling its third-generation iPad in March. The maker of computers and electronics devices, known for traditionally giving conservative guidance, said it expects fourth-quarter earnings of $7.65 a share on revenue of about $34 billion. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters forecast a profit of $10.22 a share on $38 billion in revenue. For the quarter ended June 30, Apple reported a profit of $8.82 billion, or $9.32 a share, up from $7.31 billion, or $7.79 a share, a year earlier. Revenue jumped 23% to $35.02 billion, with 62% of the top line coming from international sales. In April, the company forecast earnings of about $8.68 a share on revenue of about $34 billion. Analysts had most recently predicted a per-share profit of $10.36 and revenue of $37.18 billion. Gross margin widened to 42.8% from 41.7%. The company sold 4 million Macintosh computers, up 2% from a year ago. It also sold 6.8 million iPod media players, a 10% decline. Apple has reported declining sales for the iPod in recent quarters although the unit has likely benefited from higher average selling prices, as more consumers gravitate toward the iPod Touch. The stock, which hit an all-time high in April, is up 48% since the start of the year. -Write to Nathalie Tadena at Subscribe to WSJ:

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