IBM posts first revenue miss in five quarters, shares tumble

Tue Apr 18, 2017 6:38pm EDT
 
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(Reuters) - International Business Machines Corp (IBM.N: Quote) reported a bigger-than-expected decline in revenue for the first time in five quarters due to weak demand in its IT services business, a sign that the company's turnaround could take longer than expected.

Shares of IBM, whose revenue has now fallen for 20 quarters in a row, tumbled 4.7 percent to $162 in trading after the bell on Tuesday. At current levels, the stock is set to more than erase its roughly 2.5 percent gain this year.

With demand for its legacy hardware and software businesses stagnating, IBM has been shifting towards cloud-based services, security software, data analytics and artificial intelligence such as its supercomputer Watson, which once defeated human contestants in the quiz show Jeopardy.

These "strategic imperatives", spread across IBM's various businesses, continued to grow in the first quarter, but failed to offset weakness in the company's core operations, especially at the technology services and cloud platforms business.

IBM could not close some large deals in that business, which is its largest, while a couple of large clients took their operations in-house, Chief Financial Officer Martin Schroeter said on a conference call.

As a result, IBM's overall revenue decline increased to 2.8 percent in the first quarter from 1.3 percent in the fourth quarter, and widely missed analysts' expectation of a 1.6 percent drop.

"I think the frustration lies with the overall miss on revenue," Edward Jones analyst Bill Kreher said.

"The Street has given IBM some credit over the last year that the transition is taking shape, so I think that's where the risk lies ... execution needs to be strong."

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A woman passes by the IBM offices in New York City, U.S., October 17, 2016.  REUTERS/Brendan McDermid  -