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Earnings Preview: IBM down almost 8% since last earnings report

International Business Machines (IBM) is expected to report Q4 earnings after the close on Tuesday, January 22, with a conference call scheduled for 4:30 pm ET. IBM, a member of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, is a global information technology services and software company... EXPECTATIONS: Analysts are looking for earnings per share of $5.25 on revenue of $29.09B. The consensus range is $5.15-$5.32 for EPS on revenue of $28.33B-$29.66B, according to First Call. On its last earnings call, IBM reiterated its view of at least $15.10 in FY12 EPS, versus consensus at that time of $15.14. Current consensus for FY12 EPS is $15.13... LAST QUARTER: IBM reported Q3 EPS of $3.62, matching the consensus estimate. Q3 revenue, however, came in at $24.7B, which was shy of the consensus $25.38B projection. IBM reported its software revenue was down 1% in Q3, but up 3% when adjusting for currency. IBM's Q3 services revenue was down 5%, or flat when adjusting for currency. Also, on the Q3 earnings call a company executive said that there were a handful of software deals that fell through at the end of the quarter that if completed would have resulted in performance more consistent with what was seen in the first two months of the quarter. IBM said at that time that it expected to complete those missed deals in Q4... RESEARCH: Immediately following IBM's Q3 report, its shares were downgraded to Sell from Hold at Societe Generale and to Neutral at Janney Capital. More recently, JPMorgan downgraded IBM to Neutral on January 14, citing limited upside potential and the company's revenue growth prospects. JPMorgan lowered its price target for shares to $197 from $215. However, in December, Topeka initiated research coverage on IBM with a Buy rating and $245 price target. The day before that initiation, Sterne Agee identified the stock as one of its top picks for 2013, saying that the market under-appreciates the high barriers to entry in IBM's business... PRICE ACTION: Since the day after last quarter's report, shares of IBM have slid nearly 8%. In early afternoon trading ahead of tonight's report, IBM is up fractionally to $194.71.