Big Blue Isn't Singing the Blues

Your nickname may be Big Blue, but that doesn't mean you don't have to sing the blues.

IBM (NYSE: IBM  ) proved it tonight with yet another terrific report. With adjusted fourth-quarter earnings of $4.71 per share on $29.5 billion in sales, the vertically integrated tech giant roughly met the Street's revenue targets while surpassing the earnings consensus by 2%.

Newly appointed CEO Ginny Rometty explained that the quarter rested on "outstanding results" in all four of the company's big, bold growth initiatives. Fellow Fool Tim Beyers wanted to see a deep discussion of Big Blue's Smarter Planet program, and we did get a little bit of that. Smarter Planet as a whole kept up its 50% year-over-year sales growth, thanks in large part to the Smarter Commerce piece. That program helps companies do business with customers, suppliers, and one another; "We’re not just addressing an existing market, we’re actually making markets," said CFO Mark Loughridge.

The company keeps growing its market share in Unix systems at the expense of Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ  ) and Sun Microsystems owner Oracle (Nasdaq: ORCL  ) , both of whom seem intent on copying IBM's blueprint. And Tim will also be happy to hear that the backlog of IT service orders grew again to $141 billion. Yes, that's billion with a "B" -- roughly five quarters' worth of total IBM revenue. Must be nice to have that deep of a pool of guaranteed orders to fall back on in case times get tough.

So Ginny takes the helm of a remarkably fresh-looking 100-year-old tech giant. Looking ahead, management feels confident of achieving $20 of earnings per share in 2015 -- up from $13.44 in 2011 -- and plan to get there by staying nimble. You won't find these guys singing the blues as long as they keep that forward-looking mentality.

Among many other growth drivers, IBM is a big name in data mining and business intelligence. Learn all about this excitingly investable trend in a special report prepared by The Fool's finest analysts. It's free to Fools but won't be around forever, so grab your copy now.

Fool contributor Anders Bylund holds no position in any of the companies mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of Oracle and IBM. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinion, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Check out Anders' holdings and bio, or follow him on Twitter and Google+. We have a disclosure policy.


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