IBM posts biggest drop in 3 years on profit worry

A view of an IBM facility outside Boulder, Colorado October 18, 2006. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

BOSTON (Reuters) - IBM IBM.N shares tumbled 6 percent on Wednesday, their biggest drop in three years, on concern the world's biggest computer services company's results missed Wall Street targets in the quarter that ended Sept 30.

“There’s unconfirmed speculation that they are going to bring down their numbers for the quarter, that they are going to warn,” said Tim Ghriskey, chief investment officer of New York-based Solaris Asset Management, which manages about $2 billion.

A spokesman for IBM, which is scheduled to release quarterly results on October 16, declined to comment, saying the company does not respond to speculation and market rumors.

Sanford Bernstein & Co said in an e-mail to clients that the stock was falling partly on speculation that IBM’s investor relations staff was urging Wall Street analysts to lower their estimates for the company’s quarterly results.

“(This is) not confirmed and (we are) skeptical of this,” Sanford Bernstein technology sector specialist said in the e-mail.

Thomas Weisel Partners Analyst David Grossman said he cut his forecasts for IBM’s quarterly revenue last month and he expects other analysts to do so because the company’s sales will be hurt by the impact of the greater-than-expected strengthening of the U.S. dollar against the euro and other currencies.

“Numbers are coming down,” he said. “Some other people are talking about it now.”

Armonk, New York-based International Business Machines Corp shares fell $6.91 to $110.05 in afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

It was the biggest one-day percentage drop since April 2005 for the company, which is the world's biggest manufacturer of mainframe computers and the second-largest software maker after Microsoft Corp MSFT.O.

Reporting by Jim Finkle, editing by Maureen Bavdek