Why Microsoft and IBM Jumped

Find out what drove Microsoft and IBM up.

Jul 20, 2014 at 3:30PM

It was generally a good week for the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC), which edged 11 points higher as earnings season has been generally positive so far. S&P tech giants Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) and IBM (NYSE:IBM) were worth a closer look this week. 

Job cuts and Intel results driving enthusiasm for Microsoft
Microsoft, the software giant well known for its Windows operating system and Office productivity suites, announced that it will lay off up to 18,000 of its 127,104 employees. Approximately 12,500 of these positions will be from the software giant's freshly acquired Nokia handset division. 

Investors were pleased with this announcement, driving shares up by as much as 3.7% during Thursday's trading session (and up 6.1% for the week). Note, however, that Bloomberg reported these rumors on July 15 and Nomura's Rich Sherlund had issued a note on July 11 claiming that layoffs were imminent, so this headcount reduction may have already been baked to some extent into the stock. 

Further, chip giant Intel reported results that showed strength in the business PC space as well as the datacenter. This bodes well for Microsoft, as it is not only exposed to the PC side of things with Windows and Office, but it is also exposed to the datacenter with its multitude of server- and cloud-based products, such as Windows Server, SQL Server, and Azure. 

Microsoft is slated to report its third-quarter results after the close on July 22. 

IBM still a cash-generating machine
Technology giant IBM reported its earnings results after the close on Thursday. Revenue came in at $24.36 billion, edging out analyst consensus by $230 million. Earnings per share was $4.32, beating consensus by $0.03. Full-year earnings per share of at least $18 was reiterated, pushing past the $17.87 consensus. 

While revenue growth for the technology giant has been elusive, with revenues down 2% in the most recent quarter (1% excluding the company's divested customer-care outsourcing business), the company managed to drive diluted earnings-per-share growth of 42% year over year and net income up 28%. This net income growth appears to be driven by lower operating expenses (down 14% year over year) and slightly higher gross profit margins. Earnings-per-share growth outpaced net income growth, as the share count dropped 9% from the year-ago period because of buybacks.

Though IBM will eventually need to return to revenue growth if is to drive net income up meaningfully in the longer term (cost-cutting only takes you so far), the stock isn't exactly priced for growth at just under 11 times this year's expected earnings. Further, the consistent and aggressive buyback program will help drive earnings-per-share growth even if net income remains flat. 

IBM's shares finished the week up 2.4%. 

Leaked: Apple's next smart device (warning -- it may shock you)
Apple recently recruited a secret-development "dream team" to guarantee that its newest smart device was kept hidden from the public for as long as possible. But the secret is out, and some early viewers are even claiming that its everyday impact could trump the iPod, iPhone, and the iPad. In fact, ABI Research predicts that 485 million of these devices will be sold per year. But one small company makes this gadget possible. And its stock price has nearly unlimited room to run for early in-the-know investors. To be one of them, and to see Apple's newest smart gizmo, just click here!

Ashraf Eassa owns shares of Intel. The Motley Fool recommends Apple and Intel and owns shares of Intel, IBM, and Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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