Big Blue falls short on the top line but investors don't seem all that bothered.



ARMONK, New York. (TheStreet) -- IBM's (:IBM) fourth-quarter revenue miss was no big deal for Big Blue, thanks to the company's bullish guidance.

The tech bellwether reported revenue of $29.5 billion for the latest three months ended Dec. 31. That was up from $29 billion in the year-ago equivalent quarter, but slightly below the average analysts' forecast of $29.71 billion. IBM reported its fourth-quarter results after market close.

Excluding items, IBM earned $4.71 a share in the quarter, compared to adjusted earnings of $4.25 a share in the same period last year. Wall Street's consensus view was for a profit of $4.62 a share.

IBM said that, excluding items, it expects to earn $14.85 a share in fiscal 2012, above the current analysts' estimate of $14.82 a share. Investors clearly welcomed the guidance, pushing IBM's shares up 2.8% to $185.50 in extended trading with volume around 930,000.

"We had a strong fourth-quarter performance, capping a year of record earnings per share, revenue, profit and free cash flow," said Ginni Rometty, IBM CEO, in a statement. "We are well on track toward our long-term roadmap for operating earnings per share of at least $20 in 2015."

--Written by James Rogers in New York.

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