Updated from 7:31 a.m. EDT

As IBM's ( IBM) stock regains some momentum, it's the momentum of the company's global services unit that's on investors' minds heading into Monday's third-quarter earnings report.

On the heels of a second-quarter rebound from a major first-quarter blow-up, IBM needs to show traders that the turnaround was not an isolated one-quarter event.

"We want to make sure it's not a flash in the pan," says Sushil Wagle, an analyst at J&W Seligman. "The Street will look to see relatively clean execution. We don't want to see any big mess-ups, and we don't want to see any large segments come in with big misses," he says.

IBM added 35 cents to $82.70 Monday.

"That would be not just bad for IBM -- it would indicate the enterprise area is not faring well," adds Wagle, whose firm holds IBM shares.

Reporting a year-over-year increase in global-services bookings is one way Armonk, N.Y.-based IBM could assure investors that the turnaround is sustainable. Analysts are expecting anywhere from $10 billion to $12 billion in global services bookings in the quarter.

"If they do anything more than $10.5 billion , I'll be very happy," Wagle says.

That would be down from $14.6 billion in second-quarter bookings. But second-quarter results were unusually high, in part because deals slipped out from the first quarter, when IBM badly missed its targets and ended up slashing 14,500 jobs in Europe.

"What happened in the second quarter was partially a correction of what happened in the first quarter," says Bill Gorman, vice president in equity research at PNC Advisors who covers technology.

"They're making a lot of progress, but that doesn't mean everything was fixed as of Sept. 30." PNC holds IBM shares.

Analysts on average are expecting IBM to register total third-quarter sales of $21.71 billion and earnings of $1.13 a share, according to Thomson First Call.

If you liked this article you might like

Peregrine Gets a Loan and a Sale

Peregrine Gets a Loan and a Sale

Chip-Equipment Book-to-Bill Climbs Above Parity

Chip-Equipment Book-to-Bill Climbs Above Parity

Volcanic Paradise

Volcanic Paradise

Matching Money and Morals

Matching Money and Morals

A Getaway From the Ordinary

A Getaway From the Ordinary