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IBM’s gloomy forecast weighs down shares
February 12, 2016 Blog big data

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International Business Machines Corp’s shares touched a five-year low on Jan 20, a day after the company forecast weak earnings, underscoring challenges in its software business as it transitions to new growth areas.

The company’s shares were down 6% at US$120.40 (RM526.57) in early trading. At least 11 brokerages lowered their price target on the stock.

IBM forecast 2016 adjusted earnings of “at least” US$13.50 (RM59.04) per share, below the average analyst estimate of US$15 (RM65.60) per share, and reported a drop in revenue for the fifteenth straight quarter.

While a strong dollar reduced IBM’s profit by US$300mil (RM1.31bil) in the fourth quarter and is expected to lower 2016 pre-tax profit by US$1.3bil (RM5.69bil), weakness in its software division remains a key concern.

Revenue at IBM’s software business, which accounts for more than a quarter of the company’s revenue, fell about 11% to US$6.78bil (RM29.67bil) in the fourth quarter.

“We continue to think that the software segment represents the largest risk to ongoing top- and bottom-line financial performance, and thus also IBM shares,” BMO Capital Markets analysts wrote in a note to clients.

The brokerage cut its price target on the stock to US$135 (RM590.94) from US$155 (RM678.49) and reaffirmed its “market perform” rating.

IBM has been restructuring its business to focus on high-margin products such as cloud, mobile security and big data, but has failed to make up the shortfall with newer initiatives.

“IBM Software is negatively impacted by two main factors in our view: ongoing transition to Cloud, product cycle less dynamic than major competitors (Oracle, Microsoft and SAP),” Societe Generale analysts said.

The brokerage cut its price target to US$120 (RM525.28) from US$140 (RM612.83) and reiterated its “sell” rating.

Up to the close of Jan 19, IBM stock lost 40% of its market value since touching a record-high of US$215.90 (RM945.07) in 2013. — Reuters