Updated from 1:25 p.m. EST
SAN FRANCISCO -- Shares of
were getting a bump higher Thursday after the company affirmed its projection that it would earn at least $9.20 a share in 2009.
According to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing made Thursday in coordination with a conference appearance by Chief Financial Officer Mark Loughridge, the company said its January results were consistent with its forecast, which includes a "relatively flat" performance in the first quarter.
Shares of IBM were recently up $3.11, or 3.6%, to $89.01.
In 2008, the tech hardware and services giant earned $8.93 a share, as revenue rose 4.9%.
The company said its services business, which comprised roughly half its revenue, has so far this quarter seen year-to-year growth in signings, with "strong" double-digit growth in long-term signings.
For now, IBM expects the double-digit growth in long-term signings to hold throughout the quarter.
The company's software segment was actually its biggest revenue-percentage gainer in the fourth quarter, and IBM said it was experiencing a "good pipeline" of opportunities there this quarter, despite the typically back-end loaded nature of software deals.
IBM also said it is focusing on "higher-value" segments of the IT industry. As a result, it has been ridding itself of cyclical and commoditizing businesses, including PCs, hard disk drives and printers.
Like most tech stocks, IBM is well off its 52-week-highs from last summer, but the stock is now up more than 5% in 2009, as investors have increasingly been drawn to diversified companies with strong balance sheets. Tech services providers has also been seen as an attractive sector, related to its role in helping a growing number of customers cut costs.