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Sometimes it's tough reporting after the bell when the regular trading day was up big: first sign of trouble and your stock gets flicked behind the ear in the after-market. IBM (IBM - Analyst Report) reported Q3 earnings of $3.99 per share on revenues of $23.72 billion -- that's a bottom-line beat by 3 cents but a modest top-line miss. IBM shares have been down between 3-6% in late trading.

Both hardware and software sales were a bit light in the quarter, and services backlog was even with a year ago. Fitting with early Q3 earnings season in general, the narrative still stands: no major disappointments, but nothing to flow anyone's juices, either.

Big tech like Big Blue are slowly but surely morphing into the Alcoas and other industrials of the market: huge, unsurprising, relatively stable but often without much of a pop. IBM's sell-off after the bell is either a good buying opportunity or alleviating some of the loftiness in the share price, near-term. In any case, it ain't going away any time soon.

Analysts had been mixed prior to the earnings announcement, for this quarter, next quarter, fiscal 2013 and 2014. This has earned IBM a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) and a longer-term Neutral recommendation. Depending on how big this sell-off is, analysts may eventually see some buyable value in the shares.

IBM has brought in rather lackluster earnings reports for the past few quarters now. Actually, Q3 is the best of the year so far, and it's still kind of a yawner. Down roughly 10% year-over-year, however, investors could have really used some unexpected good news. I suppose, for now, it will settle for "not too bad" news.

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