Enterprise IT companies may not have the star quality of their consumer counterparts, but they could offer upside for embattled investors heading into the earnings season.

Despite Intel's ( INTC) recent assertion that consumers' tech spending is holding up better than businesses', there are still worrying signs about the state of consumer confidence. Earlier this week, for example, the U.S. government reported that retail sales were down in March, and the European Central Bank warned that the slump in U.S. consumer spending is continuing.

Last month a survey by the Consumer Electronics Association and publisher CNET revealed that tech spending continued to nosedive, hitting its lowest level since the research began more than two years ago.

Data center hardware and software are unlikely to grab as many headlines as the latest smartphone and video game technology, but they may offer some respite in an unforgiving economy. IBM ( IBM), EMC ( EMC) and software giant VMware ( VMW), for example, have all enjoyed recent share growth.

"We expect a solid March quarter from IBM," wrote Goldman Sachs analyst David Bailey, in a note released Tuesday, pointing to the fact that IBM's shares have risen around 18% this year. "We expect the stock to continue to outperform most other areas in tech given its earnings resiliency, even as IT demand remains weak."

The company, which is said to have walked away from purchasing Sun Microsystems ( JAVA) is expected to post revenue of $22.55 billion and earnings of $1.66 a share when it reports its first-quarter results on Monday.

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