International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM) saw its shares rally nearly 2.5% in late trading after the IT company posted better-than-expected fiscal fourth-quarter earnings.

IBM’s full-year guidance also topped forecasts, as the company sees fiscal 2011 adjusted earnings of “at least” $13.00 a share, compared with analyst projections for earnings of $12.58 a share.

The tech bellwether weighed in with net income that rose 9% to $5.26 billion, or $4.18 a share, compared with last year’s fourth-quarter earnings of $4.8 billion, or $3.59 a share.

Sales rose 7% to a record high of to $29.02 billion. Analysts had predicted earnings of $4.08 a share on revenue of $28.26 billion, according to a poll by Thomson Reuters.

Gross margin widened to 49%, up from 48.3% in the year-ago quarter.

"As IBM enters its second century, we will continue to focus on our long-term strategic initiatives -- growth markets, Smarter Planet Solutions, cloud and business analytics -- as we drive to achieve our new roadmap target of operating earnings per share of at least $20 in 2015," said Samuel J. Palmisano, IBM chairman, president and chief executive officer, in a release.

The company said revenue from growth markets, which represents 21% of IBM’s total geographic revenue, jumped 15%, as revenue in the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, Industry and China) leapt 19%. In the Americas, revenue rose 9%, as revenues from Europe, Africa and the Middle East fell 2%, but rose 4% when adjusting for currency fluctuations.

IBM shares rose 65 cents, or nearly half a percent, on Tuesday, closing at $150.65 a share. The stock was up $3.50, or 2.3%, in after-hours trading.