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shares crept up in early trading Tuesday after the firm reiterated its profit forecast for 2009 and 2010.

In an SEC filing, IBM reconfirmed its commitment to 2009 earnings of at least $9.70 a share. For 2010, the tech bellwether expects profit of between $10 and $11 a share, although is "well ahead of pace" on its 2010 roadmap, according to the filing.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial expect IBM to post 2009 earnings of $9.76 a share and 2010 profit of $10.67 a share.

Shares of IBM were up 3 cents to $117.49 in recent trading, mirroring the broader advance in tech stocks that saw the Nasdaq gain 0.6%.

IBM, which competes with


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, blew past analysts' estimates in its recent

second-quarter results

and raised its 2009 profit target. The server maker had originally forecast profit earnings of $9.20 a share but raised this figure to $9.70 thanks to strong margin performance.

The company has been shifting its focus onto high-margin software and services in recent quarters, a strategy which seems to be working.

IBM reported second-quarter earnings of $2.32 a share, up from $1.97 a share in the same period last year, and well above analysts' estimate of $2.02 a share. The firm's second quarter net income was $3.1 billion, up 12% on the prior year's quarter.


Written by James Rogers in New York