IBM Ends 22-Quarter Streak of Falling Revenue

IBM Net Common Payout Yield data by YCharts

Virtually all IBM business units reported increased revenues, including 32 percent growth in the "Systems" unit, which includes hardware and operating systems software - and which interestingly was an area where IBM definitely struggled in the past, though its z Systems and storage line is showing some clear growth now.

On a per-share basis, the company said it had a loss of $1.14.

IBM has reported mixed financial results for full year 2017 after the tech giant posted its first rise in quarterly revenues for over five years.

For the last six years IBM chairman, president and chief executive officer Ginni Rometty has been engaged in a shrinking "by design" program, as part of IBM's refocusing on the cloud, mobile, analytics and cybersecurity, as hardware earnings continue to fall.

IBM said it took a $5.5 billion charge related to the new USA tax law, pushing it into the red. For instance, IBM reported a fourth quarter net loss of $1.14 a share due to a one-time charge of $5.5 billion tied to US tax reform.

Excluding items, IBM earned $5.18 per share, also beating analysts' average estimate of $5.17 per share.

"That gives us the confidence to say we're going to grow revenue overall in 2018", Mr. Kavanaugh said in an interview. One quarter of expansion doesn't a successful turnaround make, and it's now critical for IBM to sustain improving revenue this year.

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That said, the company's mainframe business remains robust, particularly in North America where the clients are combining it with cloud. Berkshire held about 37 million shares as of September 30.

International Business Machines Corp's revenue rose for the first time in 23 quarters and beat analysts' estimates as the company's shift into its focus areas such as cloud computing and security services gains traction.

While achieving quarterly growth is noteworthy, IBM is chasing what it sees as a more significant milestone: getting more than half its revenue from so-called strategic imperatives - newer technologies such as AI that customers can access in the cloud. Over the past 12 months, IBM's cloud businesses generated about 20% of total revenue, and grew by 25% year over year.

Jim Lebenthal, a portfolio manager at HPM Partners LLC, said there is visible evidence of Ms Rometty's progress. Ms. Rometty purchased cloud-computing platform SoftLayer Technologies Inc. the following year and committed to developing Watson into a flagship offering.

In October, the company publicly hinted that its sales slump was nearing an end, which helped lift IBM's stock over the past several months.

When Ms. Rometty took the CEO reins from Samuel Palmisano in January 2012, revenue started slipping nearly immediately and the threat of cloud computing to IBM's traditional businesses became evident. "If IBM's strategic revenues reach 50 per cent of total revenues, we believe this will help mitigate revenue declines, and potentially allow for very modest revenue growth".


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