SCOTTS VALLEY, CALIF. ( TheStreet) -- Disk-drive maker Western Digital ( WDC) crushed Wall Street expectations -- or perhaps managed them very well -- with its fiscal fourth-quarter results Tuesday, even as its top line slipped lower compared with a year ago.

Excluding items, the company posted earnings of $173 million, or 76 cents a share, well ahead of analysts' consensus estimates of 28 cents. A year ago, Western Digital earned $213 million, or 94 cents a share.

The company attributed the results to its products being better than any of its rivals. The quarterly numbers, said Western Digital chief John Coyne, "demonstrate customers' ongoing preference for WD products based on their exceptional quality, reliability and availability."

More specifically, he said there was unexpectedly strong demand for its drives in the quarter, which the company was able to meet by ramping up production in a timely manner.

Revenue for the quarter amounted to $1.93 billion. That's down slightly from the year-ago period's nearly $2 billion in revenue, but above analysts' targets of $1.6 billion.

The company actually shipped nearly 5 million more drives this year than last.

Last week, Western Digital archrival Seagate ( STX) reported a loss for its just-ended quarter, but lifted guidance for the rest of the year on what it deemed to be an uptick in demand for its drives.

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