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IBM's Sneak Peek Earnings


Industry giant attempts to ease concerns.

International Business Machines (IBM) released preliminary third-quarter results in an apparent attempt to ease concerns about its stock in the current slump.

So far, it's worked – the stock was up in mid-morning trading. Complete third-quarter results are scheduled to be released October 16.

IBM beat Wall Street's earnings forecast by 4 cents a share and reaffirmed its full-year earnings guidance of at least $8.75 a share. Both are strong indications that IBM is holding up despite a souring economy.

After a steady climb in the first half of 2008, IBM's stock took a hit on fears about its dependence on the financial services sector, which generates about 30% of its revenue. The stock declined about 30% since July.

The company says it earned $2.05 a share in July, August and September. Net income was $2.8 billion, 20% higher than the same period a year ago. Sales were up 5% to $25.3 billion, but didn't meet Wall Street's expectations.

IBM is viewed as a bellwether stock for the industry because it provides consulting, networking services and computer hardware, including servers and mainframes.

IBM is a component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average. In September, the New York Stock Exchange added IBM to its list of stocks temporarily protected against short sellers, or investors who attempt to profit by betting a stock's price will fall.

Its competitors include Hewlett-Packard (HPQ), which acquired Electronic Data Systems this year.
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