For LOUIS V. GERSTNER JR., 1996 was the year IBM finally cast off its image as a dinosaur. Gerstner, 54, has overhauled the $72 billion computer giant, pushed into such new areas as the Internet, and brought back the intense focus on customers that was key to Big Blue's early success. The result: For the first time in seven years, IBM is nearing double-digit growth, and its stock--now around the mid-150s--is soaring.
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