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Apr. 19, 2015, 5:35 PM
Apr. 13, 2015, 6:29 PM
- Looking to grab a bigger chunk of a burgeoning healthcare analytics market by offering more industry-specific solutions, IBM is buying Phytel, a provider of cloud-based patient data aggregation/analysis software, and Explorys, provider of a massive clinical database (said to consist of 315B datapoints) and a slew of analytics apps that run on top of them. Terms are undisclosed.
- IBM declares Phytel will help it give healthcare providers "insights into patient health from data about patient behaviors and their engagement with care plans," and that Explorys will "accelerate the delivery of IBM Health Cloud and IBM Watson cognitive solutions to model and apply medical evidence and large scale analytics to data."
- Both companies are being added to a new Watson Health unit based out of Boston. The business aims to provide software/services that can surface insights from large volumes of anonymous personal health data. As part of the effort, Big Blue is launching Watson Health Cloud, a platform that allows this data to be "anonymized, shared and combined with a dynamic and constantly-growing aggregated view of clinical, research and social health data."
- IBM's partnership with Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) has been expanded to cover Apple's HealthKit (health/fitness data) and ResearchKit (medical research) frameworks, via Watson and Health Cloud. The latter will provide a data storage/aggregation platform for iOS apps using HealthKit and ResearchKit. In addition, IBM will "build a suite of enterprise wellness apps using HealthKit."
- Also: 1) IBM is partnering with Medtronic (NYSE:MDT) to create diabetes management solutions that pair Medtronic's devices (and the data they produce) with IBM's analytics and cognitive computing tools. 2) IBM is partnering with Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) to "create intelligent coaching systems centered on preoperative and postoperative patient care, including joint replacement and spinal surgery."
Apr. 11, 2015, 7:04 PM
- Following an NYT column featuring remarks from exec Bill Hilf that that were taken to suggest HP (NYSE:HPQ) is exiting the public cloud infrastructure (IaaS) market, HP has told CRN it remains committed to the space. However, the IT giant adds (echoing Hilf's remarks) it's "not competing head-to-head with the big public cloud players," such as Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT).
- HP's comments follow the February departure of top cloud exec Marten Mickos (joined via the Eucalyptus acquisition), and the splitting of his responsibilities between Hilf and two other execs. The company entered the public cloud market in 2012, and (like many other enterprise IT firms) has been a backer of the OpenStack IaaS platform (pitched as an open-source alternative to Amazon/Google/Microsoft's proprietary offerings). HP asserts it has the largest OpenStack public cloud in existence.
- HP's stance arguably highlights the challenges traditional enterprise IT names face in countering the cost and scale advantages possessed by IaaS market leaders, who have often eschewed the hardware of IT giants in favor of cheap white-label hardware produced by Asian contract manufacturers. HP has partnered with Taiwan's Foxconnn and Accton to offer white-box gear for cloud providers.
- Synergy Research estimates the broader "cloud infrastructure service" market (covers IaaS and PaaS, as well as private and hybrid clouds) grew 48% in 2014 to $16B, as more on-premise workloads get migrated to cloud environments and various cloud service providers relying on IaaS/PaaS infrastructures see rapid growth. Amazon towered over the space with a near-30% share, close to 3x that of #2 Microsoft. IBM, Google, and Salesforce (NYSE:CRM) rounded out the top 5.
Apr. 2, 2015, 4:13 PM
- Reuters reports disgruntled major IBM shareholders are "seeking help from activist investors to shake up the company." Bill Ackman's Pershing Square Capital and Jeffrey Ubben's ValueAct Capital are said to have turned them down.
- In response to the discontent, which follows an 11-quarter run of Y/Y revenue drops and the pulling of IBM's $20 2015 EPS target, Big Blue has reportedly hired two i-banks to help "formulate a defense plan."
- Among the reported concerns of activists approached by shareholders: IBM's shares are considered too expensive; the company's structural problems aren't seen as easy to fix; and CEO Ginni Rometty is believed to be "doing a good job coping with a tough situation."
- Also: IBM has already been cutting jobs, carrying out huge buyacks, and selling underperforming businesses - historically three of the most popular remedies proposed by activists - for a long time.
- Meanwhile, IBM has announced a partnership with China Telecom to offer its enterprise iOS apps (the fruits of the IBM/Apple deal) to China Telecom's clients. IBM and Apple recently released 8 more enterprise iOS apps, bringing the total to 22.
- Shares rose 0.8% today to $160.45.
- Previously: IBM hikes Rometty's compensation for 2015
- Previously: Buffett adds to IBM stake in Q4
Mar. 31, 2015, 2:00 AM
- IBM (NYSE:IBM) is investing $3B over the next four years in a new 'Internet of Things' division, aiming to sell its expertise in gathering and making sense of the surge in real-time data.
- For its first major partnership, IBM said a unit of the Weather Company will move its weather data services onto its cloud, so that customers can use the data with IBM's analytics tools.
- Focusing on the cloud has been part of Big Blue's gradual shift away from its traditional hardware and consulting business.
Mar. 23, 2015, 3:24 PM
- The Barron's 400 has regularly beaten the S&P 500 (NYSEARCA:SPY) since its 2007 launch, writes Chris Dieterich, and also powers the Barron's 400 ETF (NYSEARCA:BFOR), which has topped the S&P 500 by nearly 500 basis points since starting in June 2013. BFOR is up 6% YTD, more than double that of the S&P 500.
- Among those added to the index during last week's twice-yearly rebalancing were Celgene (NASDAQ:CELG), American Airlines (NASDAQ:AAL), Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX), and Ameriprise Financial (NYSE:AMP).
- Among those dropped were McDonald's (NYSE:MCD), Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC), Verizon (NYSE:VZ), and IBM.
- A "ruthless" quantitative security-selection method screens for growth, value, and cash flow, and filters further with other factors such as diversification.
Mar. 23, 2015, 1:54 PM
- Looking to bolster Chinese sales that nosedived following the NSA scandal, IBM (IBM +1.2%) will share technology with local firms to help China develop its IT industry, CEO Ginni Rometty stated at a Chinese conference.
- 13 months ago, Rometty met with Chinese officials in an attempt to restore trust. With the help of easier comps, Big Blue's sales to the Middle Kingdom only fell 1% Y/Y in Q4, after seeing double-digit declines earlier in 2014.
- Rometty's remarks come three months after Bloomberg reported the Chinese government is "aiming to purge most foreign technology from banks, the military, state-owned enterprises and key government agencies by 2020." A February Reuters analysis found the number of approved foreign tech brands on a Chinese government buy list for state entities had fallen by a third.
Mar. 19, 2015, 10:05 AM
- With Apple Watch set to ship next month, leading high-end Swiss watchmaker Tag Heuer plans to launch a watch that runs on Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android Wear platform, and is powered by an Intel (INTC +0.1%) CPU.
- The PR provides few details about the watch, but Reuters reports the product will be a version of Tag's bestselling Carrera line, and launch next autumn. With Carerra watches often priced above $2K, the deal will likely be more valuable to Intel as a reference win - the vast majority of early smartwatch launches have involved ARM-based CPUs - than as a revenue-generator.
- Intel is going after the wearables market by pitching its Atom CPUs for relatively powerful devices, and its tiny Quark CPUs for less resource-hungry products where battery life is a priority. It has also launched Curie, a button-sized module containing a Quark CPU, flash memory, Bluetooth radio, and sensor hub. The company has a partnership with eyewear giant Luxottica, and has reportedly landed a design win for the next version of Google Glass.
- Separately, IBM (IBM +0.2%) has announced the first OpenPower servers - servers running on IBM's Power CPUs (compete against Intel's Xeon line), but which can be made by 3rd-party OEMs and could sell for much less than IBM's Power-based servers historically have - will launch in Q2 and be sold by Taiwanese manufacturer Tyan. IBM plans to offer its own OpenPower servers later this year in partnership with Taiwan's Wistron; they'll be aimed at the high-performance computing (HPC) market.
- Google, Nvidia, Mellanox, and Rackspace are among the companies that have given their support to OpenPower. IBM is both hoping to halt Power's long-term share losses to Intel, and grab a bigger share of an Internet/white-box server market (dominated by Intel systems) that accounts for a large and growing portion of global server spend.
Mar. 17, 2015, 2:13 PM
- Nearly 5 months after announcing an enterprise analytics alliance with Twitter (TWTR +1.4%), IBM (IBM -0.1%) has launched a slew of cloud-based services for enterprises and developers looking to mine Twitter data for insights and/or fuse it with other data sources.
- Among other things, IBM has rolled out a service on its Bluemix cloud app platform that lets developers/businesses "search, quickly explore and then mine enriched Twitter content and aggregated insights," and a service for its Watson Analytics platform that can "give business professionals the ability to immediately pull Twitter data into any project in order to help identify and explain hidden patterns and relationships."
- Also: The cloud-based version of IBM's BigInsights software for the popular Hadoop big data framework can now be obtained with "pre-configured access to Twitter content." IBM claims 4K+ professionals have been trained to work with Twitter data and combine it with other sources.
- Sample use cases include correlating angry Tweets with weather events and customer defections for telecom companies, drawing a link between retail employee turnover and lost customers, and using Tweet sentiment to better gauge fashion demand. IDC's David Schubmehl argues IBM's industry-specific expertise (also a reason why Apple partnered with IBM) gives it an edge in such use cases, as it battles against Oracle, Salesforce, and other software vendors providing social media analytics tools.
- For Twitter, IBM's tools burnish the company's credentials as a source for valuable business data, and could provide a boost to its data licensing sales. Twitter's data licensing/other revenue rose 105% Y/Y in Q4 to $47M (10% of total revenue).
Mar. 14, 2015, 9:21 PM
- BlackBerry's (NASDAQ:BBRY) SecuTablet, launched in partnership with Samsung (OTC:SSNLF) and IBM, is based on Samsung's Galaxy Tab S 10.5 Android tablet, and contains encryption and anti-eavesdropping tech developed by the company's German Secusmart unit (acquired last year). BlackBerry says the device could be available by this summer, and will sell for about $2,380.
- The tablet is aimed at enterprise and government clients with high-end security needs, and relies on app wrapping technology provided by IBM to silo consumer apps such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube from secure apps. IBM will also assist in implementing Secusmart's solutions "within the infrastructures of the various clients inside the governmental sector."
- The launch comes a year after BlackBerry discontinued the (QNX OS-based) PlayBook following less-than-stellar sales, and four months after the company formed an alliance with Samsung to create security solutions for Samsung's Android hardware. Google gave its blessing to BES12 (along with other enterprise mobility management platforms) last month.
Mar. 14, 2015, 4:11 PM
- Reuters reports IBM is working on a digital cash/payment system that would rely on the blockchain - the transaction ledger technology that underpins Bitcoin (COIN, OTCQB:BTCS) and other virtual currencies - to enable transactions for major currencies that don't require a bank or payment processor, thus lowering fees.
- Big Blue has reportedly "been in informal discussions about a blockchain-tied cash system with a number of central banks, including the U.S. Federal Reserve." If central banks approve, IBM will "build the secure and scalable infrastructure for the project."
- A source: "When somebody wants to transact in the system, instead of you trying to acquire a Bitcoin, you simply say, here are some U.S. dollars. It's sort of a Bitcoin but without the Bitcoin."
- Bitcoin's support for transaction fees far lower than those charged by credit card processors (Visa, MasterCard, etc.) and traditional online payment platforms (e.g. PayPal) has led many big online merchants to support the virtual currency. However, Bitcoin's tremendous volatility - after peaking above $1,100 in late 2013, Bitcoin now trades below $300 - has scared off many would-be users.
- In theory, IBM's offering would provide the transaction cost benefits of Bitcoin, while allowing consumers to rely on dollars, euros, yen, etc. The reported solution could be linked to a user's bank account via digital wallet software.
- Also: Whereas Bitcoin is completely decentralized, central banks would serve as overseers for the IBM-backed currency system. "These coins will be part of the money supply," says Reuters' source. "It's the same money, just not a dollar bill with a serial number on it, but a token that sits on this blockchain."
Mar. 13, 2015, 1:37 PM
- The euro is down 1.6% against the dollar today following a bearish Goldman forecast, bringing the exchange rate to 1.0465. IBM, which received 33% of its Q4 revenue from EMEA, is among the biggest large-cap tech decliners on a day the Nasdaq is down 1% and the S&P 1.1%.
- Big Blue is just two weeks removed from forecasting a strong dollar will respectively have 7%+ and 6%+ impacts on Q1 and full-year sales growth, larger than previously expected. It had a 440 bps impact on Q4 growth, topping initial guidance of 300 bps.
- Shares are a little over $4 above a 52-week low of $149.52 (set on Jan. 29). They trade for 10x 2015E EPS and 12x IBM's 2015 free cash flow forecast.
Mar. 7, 2015, 3:26 PM
- With Intel's (NASDAQ:INTC) Grantley Xeon CPU launch and Web data center investments offsetting weak high-end server demand, IDC estimates global server revenue rose 1.9% Y/Y in Q4 to $14.5B, and Gartner estimates it rose 2.2% to $14B; those figures compares with Q3 growth estimates of 4.8% and 1.7%, respectively.
- Likewise, IDC estimates global enterprise storage revenue rose 7.2% Y/Y in Q4, aided by Web investments and healthy demand for mid-range systems featuring integrated flash. Q3 growth was pegged at 5.1%.
- IBM had a rough time its both the server and storage markets: IDC believes its storage share fell to 9% (tied for #3) from 12.7% a year earlier, and Gartner estimates its server revenue fell 14% if one excludes Big Blue's x86 server unit, which was just sold to Lenovo. After accounting for the x86 sale, IDC estimates IBM's server share was at 13.7% (#3) vs. 26.8% a year ago.
- HP (NYSE:HPQ) fared a little better: IDC has its server share falling fractionally to 26.8% (still #1 overall), and its storage share falling to 13.8% (#2) from 14.1%. The company's x86 server unit has been gaining ground against IBM's former business, but its high-end server sales remain weak.
- Cisco's (NASDAQ:CSCO) UCS server line (recently refreshed) continues to gain ground: Its share rose to 5.3% (#5) from 4.5%, with full-year revenue pegged at $2.9B. With the help of aggressive pricing and x86 growth, Dell's server share rose to 16.7% (#2) from 15.2%, while its storage share slipped to 9% (tied for #3) from 9.2%. Lenovo (OTCPK:LNVGY) claimed a 7.6% server share (#4) thanks to the IBM deal, kicking Oracle (NYSE:ORCL) out of the top-5 along the way.
- EMC, whose high-end storage sales have been pressured (mid-range/flash demand has been better), saw its storage share drop to 22.2% (still #1) from 23.1%. NetApp (NASDAQ:NTAP), which posted an FQ3 miss and light guidance last month amid tough mid-range competition from EMC and others, saw its share drop to 7.2% (#5) from 8%.
- Not surprisingly, the white-label hardware beloved by Google, Facebook, Amazon, etc. continued to take share. IDC estimates such hardware, referred to as ODM Direct, claimed server and storage shares of 8.2% and 12.8% vs. 6.4% and 9.9% a year ago.
- Sales of x86 servers, the lion's share of which run on Intel CPUs, rose 7.1% to $11.5B. Sales of non-x86 servers fell 14% to $3B, thanks to declining demand for both mainframes and UNIX servers running proprietary RISC CPUs. "Early-stage revenue" was seen for ARM (NASDAQ:ARMH) servers, largely via HP's Moonshot line.
- Other companies with strong server and/or storage exposure: STX, WDC, SMCI, MLNX, AVGO, QLGC, RHT
Mar. 4, 2015, 6:02 PM
- Bloomberg reports production of a 12.9" iPad (NASDAQ:AAPL) is "now scheduled to start around September because of delays involving the supply of display panels." Sources state Apple previously planned to start production in calendar Q1.
- The larger iPad is expected to be aimed at enterprises and creative pros - there have been rumors of a stylus accessory for it - and bolster a business sales push that already includes partnerships with IBM and various indie developers to create enterprise-focused iOS apps. On Monday, IBM launched new iOS apps aimed at banking/financial services, retail, and travel/transportation clients.
- While iPhone and Mac sales have been growing, the iPad has been a weak spot for Apple lately: iPad sales have been down Y/Y during the last four quarters, and fell 22% in FQ1 (the December quarter).
- Update: The WSJ backs up Bloomberg's report, stating production will begin in 2H15. It also reports Apple is thinking of including USB 3.0 ports on the 12.9" iPad.
Mar. 4, 2015, 9:29 AM
- IBM has acquired AlchemyAPI, a provider of software APIs for companies looking to add A.I./deep learning capabilities to their apps. Terms are undisclosed.
- AIchemy offers both cloud-based and on-premise versions of its API offerings, which cover image and text analysis tools. The company asserts its platform "makes it easy to create smart apps that deeply understand the world's conversations, reports and photos."
- IBM plans to integrate Alchemy's deep learning tech with its Watson A.I. hardware/software platform, declaring it will strengthen "Watson's ability to quickly identify hierarchies and understand relationships within large volume data sets." Big Blue also states the deal will "greatly expand the number and types of scalable cognitive computing APIs" available to clients, developers, and partners.
- The IT giant stated last year it wants Watson to produce $10B in revenue within 10 years - all signs suggest it has a ways to go. IBM rolled out the cloud-based Watson Analytics service last year to good reviews, as well as a cloud app development platform (Bluemix) that supports Watson services and APIs. It also bought a virtual assistant startup (Cognea) to help Watson deliver "conversational services."
Mar. 2, 2015, 7:48 AM
- "When Charlie's letter came in and it referenced Greg and Ajit, it was news to me that he was writing that," Warren Buffett tells CNBC after this weekend's annual investor letters ratcheted up speculation Greg Abel and Ajit Jain were first in line to be the next chiefs at Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A, BRK.B). There's "no jockeying" at all going on between the two, he says.
- Minimum wage: We could afford to pay $20 nationwide, but there'd be a lot of people without jobs. It "distorts the market."
- IBM: "People have this misconception that - when we buy a stock - we want it to go up. That's the last thing we want it to do ... There's been no surprises at IBM since we started buying it a few years ago ... We expected revenue to come down."
- AXP - The company has a strong position in its antitrust lawsuit (which it just lost, but plans to appeal). The partnership with Costco ended when the two couldn't come to terms.
- Previously: Buffett, Munger talk succession and more in annual letters (Feb. 28)
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