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(IBM) - Get International Business Machines Corporation Report

beat Wall Street's estimates in its

fourth-quarter results

, released after market close, boosted by strength in its software business.

The tech giant reported revenue of $29.3 billion, down from $29.5 billion in the same period last year, but above analysts' estimate of $29.09. Excluding items, IBM earned $5.39 a share, up from $4.71 a share in the prior year's quarter. Analysts surveyed by

Thomson Reuters

were looking for earnings of $5.25 a share.

Investors welcomed the beat, pushing IBM's shares up 2.76% to $201.5 in extended trading.

For the full year, IBM brought in revenue of $104.5 billion and earned $15.25 a share. Analysts were looking for sales of $104.33 billion and earnings of $15.13 a share.

The company's free cash flow during 2012 was $18.2 billion, up $1.6 billion from 2011.

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"We achieved record profit, earnings per share and free cash flow in 2012," said IBM CEO Ginni Rometty in a statement released after market close. "Our performance in the fourth quarter and for the full year was driven by our strategic growth initiatives -- growth markets, analytics, cloud computing, Smarter Planet solutions -- which support our continued shift to higher-value businesses."

"Looking ahead, we continue to invest to deliver innovations for the enterprise in key areas such as big data, mobile solutions, social business and security, while expanding into new markets and reaching new clients," added Rometty. "We are well on track toward our long-term roadmap for operating EPS of at least $20 in 2015."

IBM's fourth-quarter Global Technology Services revenue decreased 2% year-over-year (flat adjusted for the effects of currency) to $10.3 billion. Global Business Services segment revenues dipped 3% (or 2% percent, adjusted for currency) to $4.7 billion.

Software revenue, however, increased 3% (or 4% adjusted for currency) to $7.9 billion.

Revenue from IBM's Systems and Technology division was down 1% to $5.8 billion compared to the same period last year. Excluding revenue from IBM's Retail Store Solutions (RSS) business, sold to

Toshiba Tec

last year, Systems and Technology revenue was up 4%.

For fiscal 2013, IBM expects earnings, excluding items, of $16.70 a share. Analysts surveyed by

Thomson Reuters

expect earnings of $16.63 a share.

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