Big Blue Fails to Impress

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All eyes were on IBM (NYS: IBM) last night as Big Blue announced its third-quarter earnings results after the market closed.

Revenue jumped 8% to $26.2 billion, which turned into non-GAAP diluted earnings per share of $3.19. The company bumped its full-year guidance to $13.35 per share, up from $13.25, but largely in line with consensus estimates, which call for $13.32. IBM CEO Samuel Palmisano said, "In the third quarter, we drove revenue growth, margin expansion, and increased earnings as a result of our innovation-based strategy and continued investment in growth initiatives."

Gross margin ticked up to 46.5% from 45.3%, led by strength in the software segment, which saw a 13% rise in revenue and boasted a gross margin of 88.1%. IBM also said that cloud revenue year to date has doubled full-year 2010 revenue.

The company also said it will spend $20 billion on acquisitions through 2015. IBM's acquisition strategy has largely been proving successful. Instead of going with enormous and expensive purchases like Hewlett-Packard (NYS: HPQ) with Autonomy, IBM shoots for short and sweet and then stitches them together into a well-rounded package.

Growth-markets revenue jumped 19%, with Brazil, Russia, India, and China increasing 17%. The growth-markets segment contributes 23% of IBM's total geographic revenue for the quarter. The report follows up Oracle (NAS: ORCL) , which put up a solid quarter a month ago on software strength.

Investors aren't impressed with the numbers Big Blue put up last night, as the stock moved lower by as much as 5% today. Macroeconomic concerns in the U.S. and the pesky European debt crisis have been weighing on demand. Some of the growth figures were positively affected by currency adjustments and, when excluding those adjustments, are a little less impressive.

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At the time this article was published Fool contributorEvan Niuholds no position in any company mentioned. Check out hisholdings and a short bio. The Motley Fool owns shares of IBM and Oracle. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy.

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