Earnings season gained momentum this week, as one of tech's biggest names -- IBM (NYSE:IBM) -- reported results. Despite its first quarter of year-over-year growth in nearly six years, the company failed to impress as growth in its newer businesses wasn't upbeat enough.
But Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) managed to grab some major headlines this week, even without reporting earnings. It shared some insight into its plans for boatloads of cash it is bringing to the U.S. from its overseas markets.
IBM beat analyst expectations in its fourth quarter, with revenue and non-GAAP earnings per share coming in at $22.5 billion and $5.18, respectively. These results compared to analyst consensus estimates for revenue and non-GAAP EPS of $22.06 billion and $5.17, respectively.
One of the most notable takeaways from the quarter was the first year-over-year revenue growth in nearly six years. Revenue climbed about 3.6% year over year to $22.5 billion. But revenue from IBM's strategic imperatives, or its newer businesses like cloud, security, and mobile, may have been a letdown for some investors. Strategic imperatives revenue was up 17% year over year. Investors may have been looking for growth from these important initiatives to be steeper. BMO Capital analyst Keith Bachman estimated that strategic imperatives revenue was flat on a year-over-year basis in constant currency and when excluding systems revenue.
IBM stock fell about 4% after its earnings report on Thursday.
Investors have been wondering how Apple would put its overseas cash to work after a change to tax law that enabled U.S. companies to repatriate cash at a discount. Apple shareholders got some answers this week.
Apple said it plans to contribute $350 billion to the U.S. economy over the next five years, starting with an estimated $38 billion repatriation tax payment.
Beyond this repatriation tax payment, the bulk of this cash will go toward "direct employment by Apple, spending and investment with Apple's domestic suppliers and manufacturers, and fueling the fast-growing app economy which Apple created with iPhone and the App Store," Apple said.
Some specifics Apple shared about its plans to contribute to the U.S. economy include the following:
- The company plans to create 20,000 new U.S. jobs over the next five years.
- It will expand its U.S. advanced manufacturing fund from $1 billion to $5 billion.
- About $30 billion will go toward capital expenditures in the U.S.
- Over $10 billion of its capital expenditures will represent investments in U.S.-based data centers.
Despite all this information on how Apple plans to spend $350 billion in the U.S. over the next five years, there are arguably more questions than answers about how the company will put excess cash to work in the near term. Apple said $55 billion of this $350 billion was already designated to U.S. investments in suppliers and manufacturers during 2018 alone. With over $250 billion in cash held overseas at the end of Apple's fourth quarter, and considering that Apple is currently raking in annual free cash flow of more than $50 billion, Apple will need to get more aggressive with spending in other areas, such as share repurchases, dividends, or acquisitions, to really make a dent in its cash hoard.