ARMONK, N.Y. - International Business Machines Corp., the world's largest computer maker, raised its hiring forecast this year to 18,800 from 15,000 to bolster its emerging markets and consulting business. The move will increase the company's work force to the highest level since 1991.
About two-thirds of new jobs this year will be added to IBM's services business, in the areas of Linux-based software, grid computing and business consulting, said John Bukovinsky, an IBM spokesman.
IBM Chief Executive Officer Samuel J. Palmisano is pushing for increased sales of consulting services, which accounted for about half of the company's $89.1 billion in revenue last year. In early January, the company said it would add 10,000 jobs this year, then increased the forecast to 15,000 later in the month. Yesterday's announcement marks a 25 percent increase over the previous forecast.
"There has to be something positive going on in the economy for IBM to hire this many people," said Jim Grossman, a technology fund manager at Thrivent Financial, a Minneapolis firm that manages $64 billion and owns 824,338 IBM shares. "Let's hope these people aren't just an additional cost."
The new positions will increase IBM's work force to more than 330,000 by the end of the year, Bukovinsky said. The company had 319,000 employees at the end of last year.
About two-thirds of the hires will be experienced workers and the rest recent college graduates.
IBM sees the potential for high growth in consulting and emerging markets, he said. The company ended 1991 with 344,000 workers.
The company's shares fell $1.48 to close at $82.21 yesterday on the New York Stock Exchange. They have fallen 11 percent this year.