IBM Posts Big Beat, Raised Guidance

IBM CFO Mark Loughridge's comments on Japan have been added to this story.

ARMONK, N.Y. ( TheStreet) -- IBM ( IBM) gave the tech sector a boost with its first-quarter results, released after market close on Tuesday. The company also raised its 2011 earnings guidance.

The tech bellwether brought in revenue of $24.6 billion, up 8% on the same period last year, or 5% adjusted for the effects of currency. Analysts had been looking for sales of $24.02 billion.

Excluding items, IBM earned $2.41 a share, a 21% hike on the prior year's quarter, and comfortably above analysts' forecast of $2.30 a share.

Big Blue also raised its full-year earnings guidance to at least $13.15 from $13. The company's EPS growth rate is now ahead of its model for at least $20 a share by 2015.

"This was a great start on the road to our 2015 objectives," said Mark Loughridge, the IBM CFO, during a conference call to discuss results after market close. "We're exiting the first quarter with a lot going for us."

Software, a key growth driver for IBM, enjoyed a strong first quarter, with revenue up 10% excluding the company's divested product lifecycle management (PLM) assets.
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IBM, which competes with Oracle ( ORCL) and HP ( HPQ), also saw its total global services revenue increase 6%, or 3% adjusted for currency.

"We delivered a strong first quarter with revenue growth across hardware, software and services and with more than 40 countries growing in double digits," said Sam Palmisano, the IBM CEO, in a statement. "We continued to see excellent momentum in our growth initiatives -- smarter planet, cloud, business analytics, and growth markets."

Loughridge, speaking during the conference call, explained that the recent Japanese earthquake did not significantly impact IBM's revenue. The tech giant gets 11% of its revenue from Japan, he explained, most of which is in the comparatively stable services sector.

"We had some deterioration in March, but it wasn't that different to what we saw in February," he said.

The CFO was also quizzed about the longer-term impact of the Japanese earthquake on IBM. "If you look at the impact on infrastructure, the damage was about $20 million, that's a very low impact," he replied. "Our supply chain was in very good shape -- I don't expect that we will have any appreciable impact moving forward."

Shares of IBM dipped $2.10, or 1.27% to $163.30 in extended trading. IBM's stock has dropped following five of its last six earnings reports.

--Written by James Rogers in New York.

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