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When the conversation on a recent episode of MarketFoolery, The Motley Fool's daily podcast, turned to IBM (NYSE: IBM ) , one of the analysts asked, "So what exactly does IBM do now?" A fair question.
The company on the frontlines of the consumer PC wars is long gone. In its place is a completely reimagined company -- a global IT services and business consulting powerhouse that's growing, profitable, and, as third-quarter results bear out, a company investors should re-evaluate with fresh eyes.
Ignore Wall Street
Wall Street may not have liked third-quarter earnings, and share price dipped as a result, but in truth there was plenty for any Fool to cheer:
- Net income rose 7%, to $3.8 billion.
- The company's EPS of $3.28 handily beat Wall Street's EPS expectation of $3.22.
- Gross margin ticked up 1.2% to stand strong at 46.5%, trouncing peer Accenture's (NYSE: ACN ) 30.6% and Hewlett-Packard's (NYSE: HPQ ) 24.2%.
IBM did miss forecast revenue, taking in $26.2 billion instead of $26.3 billion. That's a downtick of 0.003%, and in the Street's eyes, a great crime. Dinging a company the size of IBM for that is absurd.
Even more to cheer about at Big Blue
Many companies, like Microsoft for example, rely on a few big products or areas that carry the company. But IBM is vibrant through and through, and posted strong numbers across the breadth of its business:
- Software revenue rose 13%.
- Services revenue ticked up 8%.
- Service backlog stands at $137 billion, up $2.4 billion from last year.
- Systems and technology revenue rose 4%.
IBM also has an emerging markets story, a component vital to any company pursuing significant growth:
- The company increased revenue in its growth markets by 19%.
- Revenues in the all-important Brazil, Russia, India, and China markets rose by 17%.
- Growth markets revenue stands at an impressive 23% of IBM's total geographic revenue for the third quarter.
Growing through acquisitions the intelligent way
When many companies make acquisitions, they go for broke and buy big. But big moves make for big impacts, positive or negative. By acquiring midsized companies, with market caps between $100 million and $300 million, IBM minimizes the potential damage any single acquisition can inflict.
And by acquiring a series of smaller companies over the long term, IBM can concentrate on each new entity's integration, which adds to the chances of the acquisition's success. IBM plans to add $20 billion in earnings over the next three years with this slow-but-steady-wins-the-race growth strategy.
A company with its head in the clouds, in a good way
As you might expect, IBM is also on its game and moving steadily forward in the emerging cloud business:
- Revenue for IBM's Enterprise Cloud initiative has doubled so far this year.
- The company recently unveiled Smartcloud, a redoubling and expansion of its Enterprise Cloud efforts, to try to encourage companies to move even more of their data management to remote centers.
Along similar lines, revenue for Smarter Planet, IBM's data analytics initiative for making cities more efficient, rose 50% year to date. IBM is a company on the move.
Everybody loves a comeback
The company's stock has been on a steady climb since the market bottomed out in March of 2009, and is currently trading for around $179 per share. Not bargain basement cheap, but with a low P/E of 14 it looks pretty attractive. The company even pays a small dividend and has raised EPS guidance for the full year to $13.35.
Much like its early '80s rival Apple, IBM pulled itself out of the pit of irrelevance, adapted itself to a new age, and completely turned its fortunes around. The company even clawed its way back into the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI). Learn about another high-tech company that's perfectly adapted to the modern age, and poised to do big things in it, in a free Motley Fool special report. Get it while it's hot by clicking here now.