IBM Falls on Earnings Beat, Soft Revenue

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International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE: IBM) reported its fourth-quarter financial results after the markets closed on Wednesday. Big Blue said that it had $5.01 in earnings per share (EPS) and $21.8 billion in revenue versus consensus estimates from Thomson Reuters that called for $4.88 in EPS and $21.64 billion in revenue. The same period from last year had $4.84 in EPS and $22.06 billion in revenue.

Fourth-quarter cloud revenues increased 33%. The annual exit run rate for cloud as-a-service revenue increased to $8.6 billion from $5.3 billion at year-end 2015.

Big Blue reported its business segments results for the fourth quarter as:

  • Cognitive Solutions had revenues of $5.3 billion, up 1.4% (up 2.2% adjusting for currency) were driven by growth in cloud, analytics and security.
  • Global Business Services had revenues of $4.1 billion, down 4.1% (down 3.6% adjusting for currency).
  • Technology Services & Cloud Platforms had revenues of $9.3 billion, up 1.7% (up 2.4% adjusting for currency). Growth was driven by strong hybrid cloud services, analytics and security performance.
  • Systems had revenues of $2.5 billion, down 12.5% (down 12.1% adjusting for currency). Gross profit margins improved driven by z Systems performance.
  • Global Financing had revenues of $447 million, down 1.5% (down 2.1% adjusting for currency).

In the fourth quarter, the company generated net cash from operating activities of $3.2 billion; or $5.6 billion excluding Global Financing receivables. IBM’s free cash flow was $4.7 billion. IBM returned $1.3 billion in dividends and $0.9 billion of gross share repurchases to shareholders. At the end of December 2016, IBM had $5.1 billion remaining in the current share repurchase authorization.

On the books, the company had $8.53 billion in cash and marketable securities at the end of the quarter, versus $8.19 billion at the end of the previous year.

Ginni Rometty, IBM Chairman, President and CEO, commented:

In 2016, our strategic imperatives grew to represent more than 40 percent of our total revenue and we have established ourselves as the industry’s leading cognitive solutions and cloud platform company. IBM Watson is the world’s leading AI platform for business, and emerging solutions such as IBM Blockchain are enabling new levels of trust in transactions of every kind. More and more clients are choosing the IBM Cloud because of its differentiated capabilities, which are helping to transform industries, such as financial services, airlines and retail.

Shares of Big Blue closed Thursday at $166.81, with a consensus analyst price target of $158.90 and a 52-week trading range of $116.90 to $169.95. Following the release of the earnings report, the stock was off about 2% in after hours trading

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