IBM also reported a 2-percent drop in its Global Financing business.
The solid third-quarter results and expected growth in the fourth quarter led IBM to raise its expectations for full-year 2011 GAAP earnings per share to at least $12.95 compared to its previous estimate of at least $12.87. The company also raised its non-GAAP earnings per share estimate to at least $13.35. That is up about 10 cents from its estimate last quarter, and up 35 cents from its estimated early this year, Loughridge said.
Loughridge said fourth-quarter growth for most of IBM should be similar to third-quarter growth except for its hardware business, which saw especially strong growth last quarter, making it a hard quarter against which to compare.