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IBM rises on Salomon report

    IBM (NYSE: IBM) shares rose 4 percent Friday after an analyst said it's "back-up the truck time" on IBM shares, which have suffered unduly due to false rumors of a pending profit warning.

    Shares were up 5.25 to 86.81, rebounding from a fall after Merrill Lynch downgraded the stock to "neutral," based on its tough economic environment.

    Salomon Smith Barney analyst John B. Jones Jr. disagreed. He reiterated his "buy, medium risk" rating and $130 price target on the stock, and said IBM continues to have a strong quarter.

    "Pre-announcements by other companies have been predominantly U.S. consumer driven with some disappointments regarding commercial PCs and PC servers -- IBM has very little consumer business left, and the growth story is not commercial PCs or PC servers, he said.

    Jones said the company has been severely punished for muted top line growth and unfair PC comparisons this year, and sees a pick-up in business next year as companies with "broad, deep, and technologically superior offerings," get more business with the wireless explosion.

    He also reiterated estimated earnings of $1.48 a share for the fourth quarter, and $4.45 a share and $5.20 a share for 2001 and 2002, respectively.