IBM, like Apple, suffers sting of analyst downgrade

Shares of Big Blue fall nearly 4% on concerns about sustaining revenue growth rate

The analysts were aiming for the tech high-flyers on Wednesday. Shares of IBM (NYSE: IBM) fell 6.02, or 3.8 percent, to 153.00 during regular trading after Sanford Bernstein analyst Toni Sacconaghi downgraded Big Blue to market perform from outperform, noting that shares are trading at the "highest level in over 15 years." (Also see: IBM stock hits all-time high) Indeed, IBM shares hit an all-time high price of 167.72 on March 9, or just one week ago, which to Sacconaghi means the stock's price "appears to be fairly valued." Sacconaghi even predicted more upward movement for IBM shares, raising his price target to $173 from $170. Obviously, however, he sees limited upside: To get to Sacconaghi's price target from where they closed on Wednesday, IBM shares would have to climb by only 13 percent. Apple shares tumbled 15.42, or 4.5 percent, to 330.01 on Wednesday after an analyst firm cut its rating for the company's shares, citing lower revenue forecasts for the second quarter and potential problems filling demand for iPad 2s. Shares of Apple are just one month removed from an all-time high price of 364.90 set on Feb. 16. Saggonaghi sounded a similar alarm regarding IBM, casting doubt about Big Blue's ability to sustain its revenue and earnings growth rate. IBM shares also have been hit in recent days by concerns about how the nuclear disaster in Japan will affect its business. Japanese customers account for more than 10 percent of IBM's revenue.

Chris Nerney writes about the business side of technology market strategies and trends, legal issues, leadership changes, mergers, venture capital, IPOs and technology stocks. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisNerney.

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