After the bell Monday, IBM Corp. (IBM) reported earnings per share (EPS) of $2.61, marginally beating the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $2.58. Revenues of $23.7 billion rose 2% sequentially, but were roughly $500 million below estimates. Fiscal 2010 EPS expectations were cited as “at least” $11.25 per share, a penny below the Zacks consensus.

IBM has seemingly entered a comfort zone of reporting numbers a shade past analysts’ expectations. Its 1.16% positive surprise is close to the 1.6% positive surprise IBM has averaged over the past 4 quarters. Analysts had generally stood pat on earnings estimates, with only one adjusting his or her quarterly and fiscal year estimates upwards and one additional analyst lowering estimates for fiscal 2010. Over the past quarter, only the fiscal year estimate has budged, up 19 cents or 1.7%.

It has been several quarters since IBM has “wowed” analysts with its earnings report, but that said, the company has again proven itself to be a steady ship on often turbulent waters. IBM’s $2.61 per share far exceeds 1st quarter EPS of $1.97 and the $2.32 per share in the June quarter a year ago.

These positive results are despite the weakening Euro in the quarter having hurt IBM’s sizable overseas sales. Offsetting difficulties in Europe was IBM’s strength in Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC), where business was up 22%. All major businesses improved in the quarter, including Business Analytics (up 14%), Systems and Technology (up 3%) and Services (up 2%).

However, IBM shares are down over 5% in after-hours trading since the earnings announcement — more than giving up its Monday gains of 1.37% before the bell. Perhaps working numbers to just beat estimates is not enough for investors this time around.
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