International Business Machines is still in turnaround mode.
The business technology giant posted its 18th consecutive quarter of declining revenue, but it beat analyst estimates for its latest quarter on Monday. Still, on Tuesday, IBM’s shares fell 2.6% to $150.72.
IBM (IBM) said that its so-called “strategic imperatives” of cloud computing, artificial intelligence, and related data crunching, and cyber security grew 16% to $8 billion. Still, several prominent analysts expressed concern that IBM’s faster-growing areas, like the IBM Watson data crunching service, are still not offsetting the declines in its legacy software business.
Some analysts expressed optimism that the company’s 44% gain in cloud revenue shows that IBM CEO Ginni Rometty’s plans to focus on higher-growth businesses are working. At Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Summit, Rometty emphasized IBM’s commitment to Watson and related technologies, saying that while “some companies are high-growth,” IBM is “high-value.”
Here’s a roundup of what analysts are saying:
From Sweta Killa, an analyst at Zacks Investment Research:
Earnings per share came in at $3.29, well above our estimated $3.21 but down 1% from the year-ago quarter. Revenues remained unchanged year over year at $19.23 billion and outpaced the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $19.01 billion. This suggests that IBM is finally turning around its fortunes as new strategic business lines like cloud computing, big data and mobile security are growing in double digits.
From Toni Sacconaghi, Jr., a senior research analyst at Bernstein:
Overall, we found Q3 results to be sobering on several fronts: (1) While strategic imperatives growth rate improved, IBM’s overall organic growth rate continued to decline YoY (-3%), suggesting a transformation is not yet afoot; (2) Gross margins are falling strikingly; (3) we detected some incremental caution from IBM around its Software business, which we estimate will decline at least 4% at constant currency on an organic basis this year, following a 4% decline last year; and (4) Services signings were very weak – in fact the two weakest signings quarters in the last 10 years at IBM have occurred in FY 16 (Q1 and Q3), which is not a good leading indicator for future revenues.
From Barclays analysts Mark Moskowitz and Daniel Gaide:
IBM’s 3Q results were low quality, missing on an important hurdle – margin expansion. Revenue and EPS beat, but there were a lot of moving parts required, given the weak margin performance as mix and investment in the model weigh. We think investors had been looking for signs of a margin turnaround following all of the big cuts announced in January.
From CFRA Research equity analyst David Holt:
Revenues were flat, as 16% growth in Strategic Imperatives (40% of revenue) was offset by a 21% decline in its Systems segment. We think the pace of acquisitions ($5.5B YTD) could moderate going forward, but note continued momentum from cloud.
From Credit Suisse analysts including Kulbinder Garcha:
Yesterday, IBM announced F3Q16 results, which at first glance were better than expectations with revenues coming in at $19.2bn, down only 0.3% yoy (we believe this could have been helped by as much as $350mn from M&A) and EPS at $3.29, which was also above consensus, but below our expectations. The results were again helped by non-operational measures, which we find concerning. We believe the secular and structural challenges facing IBM remain, and specifically see limited improvement in Services and Software margins.
For more about IBM, watch:
From John DiFucci, equity analyst at Jefferies, via Barron’s:
While we believe that IBM’s new software sub segments—Solutions Software, Transaction Processing Software, Integration Software, and Operating Systems—are more representative of the functionalities and use cases of software offerings belonging to each, the lack of historical disclosures over several years nonetheless complicates analysis of both IBM’s core performance and comparison with other infrastructure software vendors. In addition, while we recognize IBM’s efforts to highlight revenue attributable to cloud- based offerings and analytics solutions, it is somewhat unclear to us which offerings within these two strategic categories are actual software offerings.