Exclusive: Merrill's Mandresh, 'Mr. IBM,' Is Retiring

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By Erle Norton
Staff Reporter

Dan Mandresh, the influential

Merrill Lynch

analyst who has tracked

IBM

(IBM) - Get Report

for several years, is retiring.

A spokeswoman for Merrill said Mandresh, 65, agreed to stay on until the firm finds a successor. She said Merrill has no time frame on the search and she was unsure whether it was looking for a candidate both inside and outside the firm.

According to people familiar with the situation, Mandresh made the announcement during an IBM conference call with analysts and investors on Wednesday afternoon. Among the other companies Mandresh follows is

Xerox

(XRX) - Get Report

.

Early last month, Mandresh showed his clout when the longtime IBM bull downgraded his intermediate rating on the computer company to neutral from buy. The change caused an imbalance in sell orders, which delayed the stock's opening.

Mandresh, who has been called Mr. IBM because of his strong contacts within the company, cut his rating then because "there is a strong likelihood that investors will be disappointed in IBM's earnings results through mid-year."

Before beginning his investment career in 1967, Mandresh worked at IBM for 10 years in a variety of positions. He has been at Merrill since 1975.