IBM

(IBM) - Get Report

says next year's earnings expectations are reasonable and said that over time, IT spending in the U.S. will outstrip growth in gross domestic product, although it refused to predict when that trend would resume.

At an analysts' meeting, Chief Financial Officer John Joyce declined to comment on fourth-quarter estimates, leading some to believe the company is comfortable with them.

According to First Call, IBM is expected to earn $1.30 a share on $23.20 billion in revenue in the fourth quarter, and $4.30 a share on $87.02 billion in revenue for all of next year.

"Analysts' current average for revenue expects to see IBM get back to some growth next year," Joyce said. "In light of current GDP estimates, we think this is a reasonable objective."

"Based on this revenue growth, and coupled with all that we have discussed today, the Street's average estimate for growth in earnings per share for 2003 is also reasonable," he said.

IBM's shares are down 34% in 2002. They closed up 20 cents to $79.35 Wednesday.