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IBM Misses, Shares Take a Hit

Mark Vickery

After the bell Tuesday, large-cap tech company and household name IBM Corp. (IBM) reported 3rd quarter 2012 earnings. The results seemed humdrum, but the reaction has been swift and severe: IBM shares have fallen roughly $7 per share in the after-market following its slight earnings miss and tepid guidance.

IBM reported quarterly earnings of $3.60 per share (discounting one-time items but including stock-based compensation), missing the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $3.62. Revenues also came in light at $24.7 billion versus the $25.4 billion expected. Further, IBM announced its full year 2012 guidance of "at least" $15.10 per share (non-GAAP), whereas the Zacks Consensus had this number pegged at $15.14 per share.

While Business Analytics and Smarter Planet revenues up 14% and 20% year to date, as expected, Systems & Technology overall revenue was down 13%. Downward currency adjustments took a chunk out of expected progress in Growth Markets, as well as overall Software sales, as IBM does a ton of business overseas.

At first blush, there doesn't seem much to propell shares downward so fast; IBM's game-plan seems intact (I'm sure Hewlett-Packard [HPQ] wishes it had IBM's sophisticated analystics and cloud-computing businesses right about now), and progress in its data and industry collaboration efforts in smart grids, green energy, etc. making up the Smarter Planet services is quite respectable for a company that just made computers not so long ago.

Then again, IBM had flirted with its 52-week high before the bell, so perhaps traders were looking for a good reason to take some air out of IBM's balloon. That said, these days if you're a big company with a solid record of earnings surprises, missing on both the top and bottom lines while also reiterating conservative guidance is going to get your stock hammered in the near term.

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