IBM Beats Estimates But Sales Drop Again

If the "strategic imperatives" IBM is betting on were really working, "the company's growth rate should be improving," one analyst says.
Matthew HellerApril 19, 2016
IBM Beats Estimates But Sales Drop Again

IBM’s first-quarter results provided more ammunition for skeptics of its reinvention strategy even though earnings and revenue beat analysts’ expectations.

The company on Monday reported adjusted earnings of $2.35 per share, easily clearing estimates of $2.09, while revenue of $18.7 billion exceeded expectations by $420 million. But with sales down 4.6% from a year ago, it was the 16th straight quarter of declining revenue.

Big Blue has been shedding unprofitable hardware businesses as it reorganizes itself around a set of emerging cloud, security, and data analytics businesses that CEO Ginni Rometty has dubbed the company’s “strategic imperatives.” In the first quarter, those businesses grew 14% from the year-earlier period, reaching $29.8 billion, and they now account for 37% of IBM’s revenue.

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““We are pleased with the progress we have made helping our clients apply new cognitive solutions and hybrid cloud platforms,” Rometty said in a news release.

But as The Wall Street Journal reports, “IBM hasn’t been able to solve its key problem: revenues are shrinking faster than its new businesses are growing, and the company has laid off tens of thousands of employees over the past year, even as it has hired tens of thousands of new employees in these new businesses.”

Systems revenue, which includes systems hardware and operating systems software, declined 21% excluding currency impacts. Global business services revenue, which includes consulting, global process services, and application management, fell 2.3%.

“If the strategic imperatives are really working, then the company’s growth rate should be improving,” said Toni Sacconaghi, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. told the WSJ.

Net income fell 13.5% in dollar terms, to $2 billion. Without stock buybacks and a one-time tax benefit of more than $1 billion, including interest, the drop would have been even greater, according to USA Today.

IBM shares fell 5% to $144.79 in after-market trading Monday.