Based on the aggregated intelligence of 170,000-plus investors participating in Motley Fool CAPS, the Fool's free investing community, global IT solutions giant International Business Machines (NYSE: IBM) has earned a respected four-star ranking.

With that in mind, let's take a closer look at IBM's business and see what CAPS investors are saying about the stock right now.

IBM facts

Headquarters (founded) Armonk, N.Y. (1910)
Market Cap $197.8 billion
Industry IT consulting and other services
Trailing-12-Month Revenue $99.87 billion
Management

CEO Samuel Palmisano (since January 2002)

CFO Mark Loughridge (since July 2010)

Return on Equity (average, past 3 years) 66%
Dividend Yield 1.6%
Competitors

Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ)

Oracle (Nasdaq: ORCL)

Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT)

Sources: Capital IQ (a division of Standard & Poor's) and Motley Fool CAPS.

On CAPS, 90% of the 4,041 members who have rated IBM believe the stock will outperform the S&P 500 going forward. These bulls include All-Star vitrified, who is ranked in the top 0.5% of our community, and pbkirk.

Late last year, vitrified touched on several of the tailwinds working in IBM's favor: "Strong growth and opportunities, particularly in emerging markets, as we move to smarter, networked systems. Very well-run company with comparatively limited downside risk. ... IBM is well positioned to compete."

In fact, IBM's three-year average return on equity (66%) easily tops that of x86 server foes Dell (Nasdaq: DELL) (39%) and HP (20.8%), middleware competitors Microsoft (45.2%) and Oracle (24.1%), and IT services rival Infosys (Nasdaq: INFY) (31.2%).

CAPS member pbkirk elaborates on the bull case:

Few companies have the scale to put together teams with a sufficiently wide range of expertise to create custom large-scale enterprise-computing solutions. Furthermore, unlike Oracle or Microsoft, IBM is not irrevocably wedded to any particular hardware or software -- they are very well positioned to build on emerging cloud resources.

Right now a lot of new technologies are emerging which will save companies a great deal of money -- and companies have piles of cash to invest in their IT infrastructure. This will create a few very good years for IT solution-providers.

What do you think about IBM, or any other stock for that matter? If you want to retire rich, you need to put together the best portfolio you can. Owning exceptional stocks is a surefire way to secure your financial future, and on Motley Fool CAPS, thousands of investors are working every day to find them. CAPS is 100% free, so get started!

Fool contributor Brian Pacampara owns no position in any of the companies mentioned. Microsoft is a Motley Fool Inside Value pick, and Motley Fool Options has recommended a diagonal call position on it. The Fool owns shares of IBM, Microsoft, and Oracle. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

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