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Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 October, 2003, 21:11 GMT 22:11 UK
IBM cautious on tech recovery
IBM computer
Computing giant IBM has turned in results in line with Wall Street forecasts, while warning that it is still too early to celebrate the start of a tech sector revival.

The company said profits for the July to September quarter had come in at $1.8bn (1bn), up from $1.3bn during the same period last year, and precisely in line with analysts' expectations.

Revenues also rose, climbing from $19.8bn a year ago to $21.5bn, just shy of the $21.85bn forecast by analysts.

IBM said losses in its microchip business had been offset by growth in its technology services division, while the weaker dollar had also helped boost sales.

But IBM chief executive Sam Palmisano said that while the company was confident that corporate IT spending would bounce back in line with an economic turnaround, it remained too soon to mark the start of a recovery.

New jobs

"Although it is too early to say that a rebound is at hand, we are confident that we will benefit from both a pick up in IT spending and an economic recovery," he said.

"We are beginning to see signs that the economy has stabilised."

Mr Palmisano added that the company was planning to hire 10,000 extra staff next year to beef up its presence in the areas earmarked for future growth.

Investors reacted cautiously, marking IBM shares 3% lower to $90.01 in after-hours trade.

Hopes of a broad tech sector revival had been reinforced on Tuesday by news of better than expected results from semiconductor giant Intel, seen as a bellwether for the industry.

Apple bounces back

Rival computer maker Apple sounded a more bullish note, unveiling profits of $44m for the July to September period.

Apple Power Mac G5
Sales of the Apple G5 rose 'substantially'
The figure came in slightly ahead of analysts' forecasts, and compared with a loss of $45m a year ago, most of it due to one-off charges.

Sales for the three months to September climbed to $1.72bn from $1.44bn last year.

The company said it had been helped by strong sales of laptops in the run-up to the start of the academic year, and buoyant demand for its iPod digital music player.

"Back-to-school was good for us, we saw particularly strong sales of our iPods and PowerBooks," Apple finance chief Fred Anderson told Reuters, adding that sales of the recently launched G5 - billed as the fastest personal computer in the world - also grew "substantially."

The company's network of retail outlets notched up their first profitable quarter, clearing 1m on sales of $193m.

Apple shares edged five cents higher to $24.87 in after-hours trading.

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