IBM backs full-year profit forecast

(AP) -- IBM Corp. is again backing its forecast for profit of $9.20 per share this year.

The Armonk, N.Y.-based technology company is standing by its bullish forecast because it says it's making better margins in its services and software divisions as it continues to cut costs aggressively, offsetting weakening sales.

The forecast is surprisingly high and shows IBM's confidence in its ability to wring out more profits even in tough times.

IBM's , Mark Loughridge, reiterated the guidance at an investor meeting Wednesday in New York, where Sam Palmisano also made a rare public appearance.

Analysts on average are predicting 2009 profit of $9.11 per share, according to a poll by Thomson Reuters.

In the latest quarter, IBM's profit dipped slightly to $2.3 billion, while sales fell 11 percent to $21.7 billion.

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