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Ibm Earnings Beat Analysts’ Forecasts

International Business Machines Corp. on Wednesday reported flat first-quarter profits, beating analysts’ forecasts amid strong demand for the company’s computer services, personal computers and software.

The world’s largest computer company said that the strong sales more than offset weakness in sales of powerful business computers and the negative impact from the dollar’s strength, which hurt the value of results in overseas operations.

IBM said it earned $1.2 billion, or $2.37 per common share. This compares with earnings of $1.2 billion, or $2.21 per common share, in the first quarter of 1996, excluding a charge associated with acquisitions.

Revenues rose 4.5 percent to $17.31 billion from $16.56 billion.

The profits exceeded expectations of 14 analysts surveyed by IBES International Inc., who predicted an average $2.30 per share, with a range from $2.10 to $2.40.