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Earnings Results: IBM says its technology is helping businesses navigate a wobbly global economy, as stock rallies


Shares of International Business Machines Corp. rallied in extended trading Wednesday, after the tech software, consulting and infrastructure giant reported third-quarter results that beat expectations and offered up a more upbeat full-year sales forecast.

During IBM’s

earnings call, Chief Executive Arvind Krishna said customers were turning to its technology and the guidance of its consultants to help steer through rising prices, supply-chain snarls and demographic shifts.

“When I talk with clients it’s clear there’s a real opportunity to help businesses leverage technology in today’s environment,” Krishna said during the call.

IBM reported its results as Wall Street tries to gauge the impact of a tough foreign-exchange environment and the state of business spending on tech services amid worries over a downturn. But the company saw gains in hybrid cloud services, products like open-source software platform Red Hat, its consulting services and its zSystems servers and software.

“Globally, clients view technology as an opportunity to enhance their business, which is evident in the results across our portfolio,” Krishna said in the company’s earnings release, issued before the call. He added that he now expects full-year sales growth “above our mid-single-digit model.”

That’s a bit more optimistic than the forecast he gave over the summer, when IBM reported second-quarter results. Krishna, at that time, said he continued “to expect full-year revenue growth at the high end of our mid-single-digit model.”

Wall Street expects IBM’s full-year sales to come in at $59.667 billion, according to FactSet. Analysts expect 2022 earnings per share of $9.28. IBM also said it continued to expect around $10 billion in consolidated free cash flow for the year.

For the third quarter, the company reported a net loss of $3.2 billion, or $3.54 per share, compared with a $1.1 billion profit, or $1.25 per share, in the year-earlier period. On an adjusted basis, IBM earned $1.81 per share.

Sales came in at $14.1 billion, compared with $13.3 billion a year ago.

Analysts polled by FactSet expected adjusted earnings per share of $1.79, on revenue of $13.517 billion.

Revenue in the company’s software segment grew 7.5%. Consulting revenue rose 5.4%, while the company’s infrastructure segment jumped 14.8%.

Shares gained 3.5% after hours on Wednesday.

Prior to the results, analysts had zeroed in on the impact of the strong dollar and what Morgan Stanley, in a recent note, described as “continued wage pressure in consulting.” IBM has also been trying to lean more into cloud and AI technology, unloading some businesses in an effort to narrow its focus.

Last year, in a move toward that goal, IBM spun off its infrastructure services business into Kyndryl Holdings
But afterward, some analysts raised questions about IBM’s ability to grow sales and compete in the cloud-services industry. Francisco Partners, an investment firm, this year also acquired health-care data and analytics assets that were part of IBM’s Watson Health segment.

In January, IBM declined to provide an earnings-per-share forecast. The company also changed how it organizes its business segments at the beginning of this year.

But during the spring, Krishna said he saw “demand staying strong” even if economic growth flattens or enters into a brief recession, with the decision to halt business in Russia, following its invasion of Ukraine, the only drag on results.

IBM stock is down 8% year to date. By comparison, the S&P 500 Index

is down 22%.

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