March 2016 was very good for IBM’s stock price. In fact it was the best month for Big Blue shares in more than a decade, since October 2002, according to a note from Bespoke Investment Group.
On Thursday, March 31, IBM (IBM) shares closed at $151.45, up 2.05% on the day. That represented a 16.25% gain for the month.
Per the note:
From March 2013 through its low in early February, the stock fell 45% from $215 down to $115. In the second half of February, IBM rallied from $115 up to $131, and the stock continued to rip higher for the entire month of March.
IBM, as has been reported endlessly, is caught in a tough transition because more customers are buying technology in a new way. Many companies, instead of buying new servers and software every three or four years for their own data centers, are putting more of that work into subscription-based “software as a service” applications a la Salesforce.com (CRM) and Workday (WDAY).
That software runs in the software providers’ own data centers, not many of which run pricey brand-name hardware from IBM or Hewlett-Packard Enterprise (HPE) or Oracle (ORCL). That’s put the squeeze on their cash-cow hardware businesses.
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As if that wasn’t bad enough, more developers and engineers at companies of all sizes have turned to public cloud services run by Amazon (AMZN) or Microsoft (MSFT). There they “rent” the servers, networking and storage they need to build and test new applications. Some of those companies even end up running the finished applications on that public cloud infrastructure.
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And that’s why IBM and its rivals are moving heaven and earth to offer more of their own SaaS and cloud services. IBM, in particular, is upping its services capabilities so that it can support customers running subscription applications. That’s why IBM just announced its acquisition of Bluewolf Consulting, one of Salesforce.com’s largest services partners. IBM didn’t disclose the value of the transaction but the reported purchase price was $200 million.