HomeBusinessMarketIBM's layoffs aren't helping the stock, as analysts still fret about cash...

IBM’s layoffs aren’t helping the stock, as analysts still fret about cash flow

International Business Machines Corp. shares slumped Thursday after analysts picked aside Big Blue’s free money circulate outcomes and outlook amid layoffs, and located a “mixed blessing” within the firm’s drive to shift focus away from earnings.

IBM
IBM,
-4.00%

shares fell as a lot as 5.5% to an intraday low of $132.98, whereas the Dow Jones Industrial Index
DJIA,
+0.39%

— which counts IBM as a part — was up 0.2%, the S&P 500 index
SPX,
+0.78%

rose 0.5%, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index
COMP,
+6.02%

gained 1%.

IBM reported its largest sales increase in a decade Wednesday, a rise of 5.5% to $60.53 billion, however Wall Street was way more involved with free money circulate, or FCF, which got here in effectively beneath expectations at $9.3 billion with a forecast of $10.5 billion for 2023 FCF. IBM confirmed 1000’s of layoffs to MarketWatch unbiased of earnings, although executives didn’t talk about these cuts nor their relation to money circulate in Wednesday’s report and convention name.

Analysts surveyed by FactSet had forecast FCF of $11.03 billion earlier than earnings. A year ago, IBM Chief Executive Arvind Krishna had forecast $10 billion to $10.5 billion of FCF in 2022, and had refused to subject an EPS forecast.

Read: IBM posts biggest annual sales increase in more than a decade, announces 3,900 layoffs

MoffettNathanson analyst Lisa Ellis stated IBM’s report confirmed the “mixed blessing” of FCF at work. Ellis stated that when Krishna turned chief govt three years in the past, he eradicated any give attention to earnings per share, opting to focus extra on income development and FCF.

“The mixed blessing of the FCF-centric objective is that there’s nowhere to hide —it’s transparent, and it is what it is, for better or for worse,” Ellis stated.

One instance Ellis cited, and one of many causes she upgraded IBM to market-perform final week, was the corporate’s divestiture of its managed infrastructure-service enterprise that turned Kyndryl Holdings Inc.
KD,
+0.74%
.
Ellis stated that whereas Kyndryl earlier than the spinoff was contributing almost $20 billion, or 25%, to income, the section was accounting for lower than $1 billion, or 10%, to FCF, and that contribution was on the decline.

Read: Morgan Stanley reverses IBM upgrade after 9 months as stock outperforms broader market

Morgan Stanley analyst Eric Woodring, who has an equal-weight ranking and a $143 worth goal, stated FCF missed his estimate by 30%, “implying a steep ramp to meet IBM’s CY22-24 target.”

That stated, Woodring stated that 2023 “remains a show-me story.” Even as IBM makes enhancements to its associate ecosystem, “we still view valuation as rich in the context of slowing growth.”

IBM shares, even with Thursday’s drop, are up 0.5% over the previous 12 months, in contrast with a 7% drop on the S&P 500.

Stifel analyst David Grossman, who has a purchase ranking and a $150 worth goal, stated IBM’s steady income developments had been “overshadowed” by a “sluggish FCF guide.”

“Despite in-line revenue and continued margin expansion, FCF remains in the $10bn range, after normalizing for working capital tailwinds, which is a gating item,” and certain explains strain on the inventory, Grossman stated.

“Defensive and/or dividend (4.7%) holders may be satisfied; however, the 4Q result and outlook are unlikely to attract incremental interest, which increases risk that IBM becomes a source of funds if treasury rates remain elevated or sentiment improves,” Grossman stated.

Read: IBM just broke a winning streak that lasted nearly three decades

B of A Securities analyst Wamsi Mohan, who has a purchase ranking and a $152 worth goal, stated “investors may be concerned about the trajectory of the business in 2023 given management commentary suggests that profitability will be skewed more to 2H (67%) than a typical year (61%).”

“Although rev in 1Q will be in the target model on a constant currency basis, 2Q will face tough comps from a strong mainframe launch last year,” Mohan stated.

Out of the 18 analysts surveyed by FactSet that cowl IBM, 5 have buy-grade scores, 12 have maintain scores, and one has a promote scores, together with a mean worth goal of $144.82, in contrast with $140.29 on the finish of 2022.

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