Optimistic IBM meets forecast Bountiful

Optimistic IBM meets forecast

Bountiful services contracts helped third-quarter profits at IBM Corp. match analysts’ expectations Wednesday, and the technology bellwether offered an unusual dose of optimism about the industry’s prospects for a turnaround.

In the three-month period that ended Sept. 30, IBM had net earnings of $1.79 billion, or $1.02 per share, a 37 percent gain from the comparable period in 2002, when Big Blue showed profits of $1.31 billion, or 76 cents per share.

Revenue jumped about 9 percent to $21.52 billion in the third quarter, from $19.82 billion a year ago, though the gain would have been 4 percent without currency fluctuations. The comparison figure from 2002 excludes discontinued operations such as the disk-drive business IBM sold to Hitachi Ltd.

The consensus of analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call was for earnings of $1.02 per share. IBM fell short of Wall Street’s revenue forecast of $21.86 billion.

IBM executives had been guarded about the future in previous earnings reports, but chairman and chief executive Sam Palmisano said in a statement Wednesday that “we are beginning to see signs that the economy has stabilized.” Palmisano said IBM expects to add 10,000 new jobs around the world next year. – excellent…hopefully I’ll get one or two of them

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