The Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI 0.61%) began Tuesday solidly higher, but by 11:20 a.m. EDT that gain had vanished, with the index roughly flat. Investors are digesting a slew of earnings reports, as well as news that some states are planning to reopen parts of their economies.
Shares of International Business Machines (IBM 1.28%) and 3M (MMM 0.85%) had edged higher in the morning. IBM announced a dividend increase even as uncertainty surrounding the pandemic remains high, and 3M reported solid first-quarter results.
IBM makes it 25 years in a row
While some companies are cutting or suspending their dividend payments amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, IBM announced on Tuesday that it would increase its quarterly dividend. The new dividend of $1.63 per share is just $0.01, or 0.6%, higher than the previous dividend, but a minimal boost isn't surprising given the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic.
With this increase, IBM will extend its streak of consecutive annual dividend increases to 25 years. The company joins a list of just a few dozen companies, known as Dividend Aristocrats, that have done the same. The next dividend from IBM will be paid on June 10 to shareholders of record on May 8.
IBM CEO Arvind Krishna, who took the helm earlier this month, expressed confidence in the stability of IBM during this difficult time: "IBM's free cash flow and our strong balance sheet gives us confidence to both invest aggressively in cloud and AI technologies, while also returning value to our shareholders. We remain fully committed to our dividend even during this unprecedented time, and we recognize the importance of the dividend to the more than 2.3 million investors in IBM."
IBM has withdrawn its guidance for 2020, but based on its previous expectation of producing around $12.5 billion of free cash flow this year, the higher dividend would eat up about 46% of that total. Free cash flow will likely be lower than expected due to the pandemic, but it would take a steep decline to put the dividend at any risk.
IBM stock was up about 0.3% by late morning. Shares of the tech giant are down roughly 21% from their 52-week high. Based on the new dividend, IBM stock carries a yield of 5.2%.
3M beats expectations
The market was happy with 3M's first-quarter report, pushing the stock up about 1.1% by late morning. The industrial conglomerate beat analyst expectations across the board, registering an increase in organic sales despite the disruption from the pandemic. However, like many companies, 3M withdrew its guidance for 2020.
3M reported first-quarter revenue of $8.08 billion, up 2.7% year over year and $220 million higher than the average analyst estimate. Organic sales were up 0.3% after adjusting for currency. The company saw strong demand for personal safety products, which was partially offset by weak demand in other areas. The healthcare segment enjoyed a 21% rise in sales, although acquisitions were responsible for all of that growth.
Non-GAAP (adjusted) earnings per share came in at $2.16, down 2.7% from the prior-year period but $0.15 better than analysts were expecting. The company generated $1.2 billion of operating cash flow and $0.9 billion of adjusted free cash flow.
Looking ahead, 3M sees too much uncertainty to maintain its full-year outlook. The company withdrew its 2020 guidance, following in the footsteps of many other companies. Including Tuesday's gain, 3M stock is roughly 22% below its 52-week high.