Blue Blue's big gains

April 16, 2008: 5:10 PM ET

By Scott Moritz

IBM (IBM) sounded a rally cry for tech as the big IT shop blew past its first quarter targets.

Big Blue roundly beat the Street's adjusted profit expectations by 20 cents with a $1.65 bottom line for the first quarter. Sales of $24.5 billion also soared passed analysts' estimates, which called for revenue of $23.7 billion in the quarter ended last month.

The news follows Intel's (INTC) solid first quarter performance Tuesday and highlights some of the favorable trends still at work in the sector, especially among the bigger players.

The strong performance by IBM will help assure economy watchers and investors that the gloom hanging over the market may be lifting in some segments of the tech world.

While IBM didn't give an immediate forecast, CEO Sam Palmisano gave an upbeat appraisal in a press release Wednesday, saying "We feel good about the rest of the year."

The sunny outlook will likely spur a sense of optimism on Wall Street where sentiments ran high Wednesday after JPMorgan Chase (JPM) reported solid results. The Dow Jones index was up 2% and the tech-laden Nasdaq rose nearly 3% Wednesday.

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