Things must be looking up. Fresh from a profitable quarter, IBM has announced plans to hire 15,000 additional employees worldwide.

The hiring plans come just days after the company reported a 9.4 percent increase in fourth-quarter revenue, to US$25.9 billion, and predicted that 2004 would herald the return of the IT industry growth cycle.

A UK company representative for the company declined to say where the jobs would be added. IBM currently has 315,889 employees worldwide, according to its website, and the new hires will bump it to almost 331,000.

In reporting its quarterly results last Thursday, the company said that it had strong growth in its services and personal systems group worldwide.

The announcement comes in the wake of a series of job cuts, during which the company said that it was trying to cut costs and reduce job redundancies. The latest trimming was made earlier this month when Big Blue slashed 400 US-based software and services jobs.