What Could Make IBM the Best DJIA Stock of 2015

There may be a notion that is very difficult to stomach for even the deepest of value stock investors. Could it be even remotely possible that International Business Machines Corporation (NYSE: IBM) could become the best-performing stock of the entire 30 Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) stocks in 2015? The notion may sound absolutely silly on the surface, but history could end up working in Big Blue’s favor if Ginny Rometty can manage to pull even one rabbit out of the hat in 2015.

24/7 Wall St. wanted to evaluate which forces could propel IBM higher, as well as which forces may keep working against it. Our take as of the start of December is that it is still too soon to begin making 2015 individual predictions.

Before wondering what exactly might drive the cart for IBM to be the best DJIA stock of 2015, some basic DJIA component performance history should be considered here. When we ran the DJIA bull and bear case for 2014 back in January, it turns out that the analysts covering IBM were calling for a gain of roughly 3% on average for all of 2014. As of Tuesday, IBM was the worst performing of the 30 DJIA stocks, with a loss of 10%.

ALSO READ: Tech Stocks That Could Explode With a Short Squeeze

Other past DJIA blunders have been off the mark as well. Alcoa Inc. (NYSE: AA) was kicked out of the DJIA late in 2013, but it would have been at the top of the list for DJIA stocks with a gain of more than 60% so far in 2014. Also as of Tuesday, Intel Corp. (NASDAQ: INTC) was the best performing of all DJIA stocks, with a gain of over 47%. When we ran the 2014 bull and bear case for Intel in January, the average analyst was looking for a loss of about 5%. IBM is greatly out of favor, but is there a chance that sentiment has simply gone way too negative?

Then there is the trickery of chasing the best performers. Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA) was the best performing DJIA stock in 2013, with a gain of about 84%. Our own 2014 bull and bear analysis using public analyst data called for a consensus gain of almost 10% for 2014, but year to date its shares are marginally just under flat, even if analysts now expect close to 15% gains ahead.

IBM does have several things going for it, despite its many woes. IBM has a massive service orders backlog. It has Warren Buffett as a monster shareholder. IBM also keeps repurchasing billions of dollars worth of stock, perhaps already more than its net income this year. Now IBM seems to keep winning more cloud pacts, even after it issued a serious warning on revenues and earnings ahead.

Another issue to consider is that IBM has finally abandoned that “$20 in earnings per share by the end of 2015 at all costs.” Rometty may have had to absorb criticism and much of the blame here for running with the same company message endlessly, but she may have simply inherited a company that just could not easily grow with what it had left.

Trying to assume that IBM will have a great stock performance in 2015 just because it has been down over 10% in 2014 is something that feels hard to handle in a guessing game. Sure, it happens sometimes that the worst-performing DJIA stock is the following year’s top performer — and the top-performing DJIA stock of one year often has a very hard time performing well in the following one.

ALSO READ: Five Imminent DJIA Dividend Hikes

Still, IBM screens out as a cheap stock despite no revenue growth at all. Big Blue’s forward price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio for 2015 is actually less than 10 at this time. Some analysts have grown very leery of that due to earnings quality and buybacks. Credit Suisse even warned that IBM could ultimately fall to $125 — it has the lowest price target of all brokerage firms on Wall Street.

24/7 Wall St. is not trying to predict that IBM will have a great stock year in 2015. There is almost a month until year-end, and it feels like a sucker’s game to try to make predictions for a year ahead this early.

One of the 30 DJIA stocks has to be the best-performing DJIA stock next year, and we wanted to see what could occur that might make IBM that performer. We also provided the same sort of view for oil giants Exxon and Chevron — short of just hoping for a major oil price snapback rally.

With IBM shares close to $162.50, Big Blue’s 52-week trading range is $159.80 to $199.21. It has a consensus analyst price target of about $169, and the highest analyst price target for IBM shares is up at $198.

ALSO READ: Analyst Picks Top Dividends for 2015

Take This Retirement Quiz To Get Matched With An Advisor Now (Sponsored)

Are you ready for retirement? Planning for retirement can be overwhelming, that’s why it could be a good idea to speak to a fiduciary financial advisor about your goals today.

Start by taking this retirement quiz right here from SmartAsset that will match you with up to 3 financial advisors that serve your area and beyond in 5 minutes. Smart Asset is now matching over 50,000 people a month.

Click here now to get started.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us?
Contact the 24/7 Wall St. editorial team.