In this segment from Motley Fool Money, Chris Hill is joined by Motley Fool analysts Jason Moser and Matt Argersinger as they check in with the latest results from Big Blue, which continues to disappoint. First quarter 2017 marked IBM's (NYSE:IBM) 20th straight quarter of declining revenue.
So why is this happening? And more importantly, can its "strategic imperative" businesses get it back to growth as its legacy units slip?
A full transcript follows the video.
This video was recorded on April 21, 2017.
Chris Hill: A lot of numbers went into IBM's first quarter reports, so let's go with this one. It was the 20th quarter in a row of declining revenue. Shares of Big Blue down about 5% this week, Matty.
Matt Argersinger: You know that old saying, no one ever got fired for choosing IBM? That used to apply in the investor world, too. I feel like if you were a money manager and you invested your client's assets in IBM, if you had a bad quarter, how could they blame you? You bought IBM. I don't think that really holds anymore with the Big Blue. You mentioned the 20th consecutive quarter. If you go back to 2012, that was the last year when IBM generated over $100 billion in revenue. That also marked the peak for IBM's earnings. They generated $16.6 billion in profits that year. Over the last 12 months, $79 billion in revenue, and just $11.6 billion in profits. Of course, people are going to say, "They're paying a great dividend, and earnings per share hasn't come down that much." A lot of that is financial engineering, and it's only going to get you so far. I would say the problem with IBM is, I don't think they really know who they are. I think they think they're a cloud company, a consulting company, a big data company. I think they're trying to do all those things, but not one thing particularly well.
Jason Moser: Oh, we don't know what they are, either. We've been talking about that a lot lately. What is IBM? I'm not sure.
Argersinger: I think most people think it's Watson, although Watson isn't something you can buy for your home or your business.
Hill: I think that's totally understandable, that people think it's Watson, because from a promotional standpoint, that is how IBM is pushing itself. If you just look at their television ads, it's all about Watson. And when you think about the way that management talks about their latest report, I don't blame them for saying, "Just ignore the declining revenue and focus on our growth in cloud." That's fine. But the growth in cloud is not making up for the decline in revenue.
Argersinger: No. And overall, they're declining. Restructuring your business or shifting from one segment to another is not going to get the job done, and certainly hasn't over the last five years.