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IBM (IBM - Analyst Report) missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate for the first time in years during its first quarter. Years!

The computing powerhouse also missed on the top line, in a quarterly performance that is sure to add to growing concerns about the market and the economy. Mercifully, Big Blue kept its outlook for 2013 unchanged, which is going to have to pass as good news in an otherwise surprising report.

As of this writing, shares of Big Blue are down more than 4% after hours.

IBM reported operating earnings per share of $3 for the first quarter, which was below the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $3.06. The result was 8% better than the year-ago performance, but this is the real story here:

Total revenues of $23.4 billion were also below the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $24.5 billion. While the earnings miss is surprising, the revenue miss is more disappointing. In its fourth quarter, IBM had topped expectations for the first time in several quarters. We were hoping that was the beginning of a turnaround in this department. Guess not.

The company stated that it failed to close a number of software and mainframe transactions, which have moved into the second quarter. Meanwhile, the services business performed as expected.

IBM was pretty much standing still heading into this report. With a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold), there had been very few earnings estimate revisions in the past several months. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for this year is at $16.74 per share, which is up from $16.58 three months ago, but had been rather stagnant since. In fact, the consensus is down a penny in the past 7 days.

It will be interesting to see what kind of repercussions this report has on earnings season. IBM is seen as a bellwether not only for technology, but the market in general . A good report could have helped the souring mood among investors, but it will instead bring a lot of questions. We’ll have a lot more on IBM’s report soon…

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