This story has been updated with IBM CFO Mark Loughridge's conference call comments.



) -- Boosted by double-digit growth in hardware, software and services,


(IBM) - Get Report

continued its run of

strong quarterly results

after market close on Monday, and raised its earnings guidance.


100 year-old tech bellwether

brought in revenue of $26.7 billion, compared to $23.7 billion in the same period last year, comfortably above analysts' estimate of $25.35 billion.

Excluding items, IBM earned $3.09 cents a share, up from $2.62 cents a share in the prior year's quarter, beating analysts' forecast of $3.03 a share.

"Hardware, software and services revenue grew at double digits, and we achieved strong profit and free cash flow growth," said IBM CEO Sam Palmisano, in a statement released after market close. The tech giant, he said, is raising its earnings guidance for fiscal 2012 to at least $13.25 from its prior estimate of $13.15.

IBM, which competes with


(ORCL) - Get Report



(HPQ) - Get Report

, grew its total services revenue 10% compared to the same period last year, while its software business grew 17% year-over year. In hardware, sales in the company's systems and technology business also enjoyed a 17% hike from the prior year's quarter.

CFO Mark Loughridge launded IBM middleware offerings such as WebSphere for driving its second-quarter software growth. Speaking during a conference call after market close, Loughridge explained that IBM's "key branded middleware" revenue was up 21% year-over-year, accounting for 64% of the company's $6.2 billion total software sales.

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The tech giant, however, is experiencing ongoing weakness in its public sector business, a trend which could have major implications for other firms in the sector, such as


(DELL) - Get Report



(CSCO) - Get Report


"Public sector revenue was down again this quarter, driven by declines in government spending," explained Loughridge. This, he added, impacted the company's Global Business Services division, but the effects were not felt in IBM's overall results.

Rather than dwelling on public sector issues, Loughridge spent a chunk of the conference call highlighting IBM's performance in emerging markets. "Our growth market countries grew 10 points faster than the major markets," he explained.

"Old Man Big Blue keeps on rolling, as worries over Services was unfounded, and the software and hardware businesses executed well," said Brian Gilmartin, a portfolio manager at Trinity Asset Management (TAM), in a post on


. "It is hard to find any holes in any aspect of IBM's numbers, although it sounded on the call, that a persistent strong dollar might raise some questions about Big Blue."

IBM's stock has dropped following

six of its last seven earnings reports

, but gained 74 cents, or 0.20%, to $374.54 after market close on Monday.


Written by James Rogers in New York


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