International Business Machines released its latest earnings report last night, and the results weren’t great. Today the tech giant’s stock slipped by nearly 6% to as low as $143.62 per share, and most of the analyst reports weren’t exactly glowing. Interestingly though, Goldman Sachs analysts raised their price target for IBM significantly… even though they remain Neutral-rated on the stock.
IBM price target to $150
Goldman analyst James Schneider raised his target from $138 to $150 per share after last night’s report. IBM posted $18.68 billion in revenue, beating the consensus of $18.3 billion, non-GAAP earnings also came in better than expected at $2.35 per share, against the consensus of $2.09. Higher revenue, items and one-time tax benefits drove the upside, Schneider noted.
As has been the case often over the last few quarters, investors slammed IBM for management’s weak guide. Although they continue to expect full-year earnings of at least $13.50 per share, they said the second quarter should represent only about 20%, which Schneider said implies only $2.85 per share for the quarter, compared to the consensus of $3.45. Management expects margins to remained pressured for now due to higher investments as they seek mergers and acquisitions to boost sales.
Schneider said he would become “more constructive” on the company if Software & Services revenue shows “sustained improvement,” which he thinks could happen within the next 18 months.
Warnings about IBM’s earnings quality
Credit Suisse analyst Kulbinder Garcha maintained his Underperform rating and $110 target price on IBM, stating in his report that concerns about the quality of the company’s earnings have reemerged. He noted that the company benefited from a $1 billion non-U.S. tax gain, which offset the $1.5 billion workforce rebalancing. He sees the earnings quality as being low again and believes that the way the company is managing itself “seems unsustainable.”
He’s concerned about the workforce rebalancing as in January, management said it would be slightly down year over year, but despite this, there still was a $1.5 billion charge associated with it. He noted that this is already much higher than the annual per-year charges of about $800 million over the last five years and believes that management waited for the tax benefit to enact this round of restructuring, which he believes “is not a sustainable way to run a business.”
He’s concerned also about the margins in the Cognitive Solutions business and called lead indicators in the Services segment “lackluster.”