LTW from wire reports

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) says it expects to earn at least $20 per share in 2015. And driving growth in a major way will be an increasing emphasis on acquisitions.

To hit the $20 target, IBM would need a growth rate for the company’s earnings per share of about 12 percent each year over the next five years. IBM is expecting earnings of $11.20 per share this year, or $11.35 excluding items.

(Check accompanying images for charts from today’s briefing.)

IBM CEO Sam Palmisano gave the forecast during an investor meeting () Wednesday. The company’s stock was up $3.27, or 2.6 percent, to $130.16 at the time.

By market close company shares jumped $4.56, or 5.8 percent, to $132.68.

IBM has been benefiting healthier corporate spending on technology as the recession wanes. Its first-quarter earnings climbed 13 percent from the year before to $2.6 billion. Revenue was up 5 percent at $22.9 billion.

The company demonstrated in the downturn that it’s skilled in wringing more profits from its businesses even when they’re hurting. Last year, IBM’s total revenue fell 8 percent to $95.8 billion, a decline that would have been 5 percent were it not for currency fluctuations.

Big Blue also laid off thousands of workers, especially in the U.S.

Some notes from other media coverage of Palmisano’s presentation:

In the near future, “IBM will be as dramatically different as IBM is today as when we talked about it in 2003 and 2004,” said Palmisano, according to Larry Dignan at ZDnet.

“International Business Machines Corp. Chief Executive Officer Sam Palmisano, seeking to boost earnings by focusing on software and services, said he plans to spend $20 billion on acquisitions in the next five years,” reported Bloomberg.

Barrons noted the big boost in acquisition plans: “Palmisano also said the company plans to spend about $20 billion on acquisitions through 2015. In 2009, the company spent $1.5 billion on acquisitions, including $1.2 billion for SPSS.”

Reuters on IBM’s changes:

“IBM, over the past decade, has been shifting its focus to the more profitable technology services and software from commoditized hardware products.

“’More and more of our profits will come from these higher profit segments,’ Palmisano said, according to Reuters.”

IBM also will remain “very shareholder friendly,” Palmisano said, according to Reuters.

IBM employs some 10,000 people at its campus in Research Triangle Park, N.C.

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