When I posted last week on looking ahead to the IBM first quarter results, I put my head on the block by stating that I felt the results would hold up pretty well.
The formal results were announced yesterday, and I am pleased to say I live to look into my crystal ball another day, at least when discounting the effects of swinging currency markets.
Firstly, I had suggested that the IBM services arm would probably benefit from users wanting to cut costs and looking for help to do it. In fact, IBM claims that overall signings were up 10% at constant currency, and up 27% in the larger projects category. This bodes well for future revenue recognition as these projects flow through. I had also pointed to the desire for quick hit benefitsdriving the IBM WebSphere-based SOA offerings such as BPM, and indeed while overall IBM software was down 6% (up 2% at constant currency), WebSphere revenues grew 5% (14% at constant currency). My forecast was that hardware would take a bit of a hit, but that this shouldn;t damage the overall numbers too much. Once again this seems to be borne out in the IBM announcements, pointing to a 23% drop (18% at constant currency) of its Systems and Technology segment where the hardware products live. However, overall this had little adverse impact on IBM’s overall figures as predicted because IBM has swung its business model much more heavily in favour of software and services now.
Looking ahead, these results can only be good news for IBM, even though revenue at common currency was down 4%. From a global market perspective this should also prove encouraging to other IT vendors, particularly those with investments in the high-growth enterprise middleware area and those providing advisory professional services. However, companies reliant on hardware revenues will probably suffer most.
The final interesting point was that IBM claims it is sitting on $12B cash in hand….I wonder what it plans to do with all that money at a time when assets are cheap and it has just missed out on SUN….