Buybacks give IBM a big EPS lift; hardware sales continue plunging

|By:, SA News Editor

IBM has established 2014 EPS guidance of $18, slightly above a $17.97 consensus.

Revenue continues to be pressured by nosediving hardware/chip sales, which declined 26% Y/Y in Q4 after dropping 17% in Q3 and 12% in Q2. Mainframes -37%, Power servers (UNIX-driven) -31%, x86 servers (reportedly on the block again) -16%, storage -13%, chips -33%. The numbers suggest share loss to H-P, Dell, TSMC, and others.

Global Technology Services revenue -4%, same as Q3 and Q2. Global Business Services +1%. Services backlog is at $143B, +1% Q/Q and +2% Y/Y. Software +3% vs. +1%, global financing flat vs. +6%.

$5.8B was spent on buybacks, up from $1.9B in Q3 and providing a big lift to EPS. Gross margin, which has been steadily rising in recent years, rose 30 bps Y/Y to 52.6%.

Asia-Pac sales, pressured by NSA fallout, were soft again, declining 12% Y/Y; they dropped 15% in Q3. Americas fell 3%, and EMEA was up 1%. Sales to "growth markets" declined 5% after falling 9% in Q3.

IBM -2.2% AH. CC at 4:30PM ET.

Q4 results, PR