Jul. 2, 2014, 1:56 AM
- Lenovo (LNVGF) is still expecting to close the $2.3B deal on IBM’s (IBM) low-end server business this year, although the acquisition is still being investigated by the U.S. for national-security risks.
- One of the main concerns is that IBM's x86 servers are used in U.S. communication networks and in data centers that support the Pentagon's computer networks.
- The company is also attempting to obtain regulatory approval to buy Google's Motorola Mobility, in another multi-billion-dollar acquisition valued at $2.9B.
Jun. 11, 2014, 11:22 AM
- Bloomberg's report follows an April WSJ report calling Globalfoundries "the lead candidate" to buy IBM's (IBM -0.6%) chip manufacturing/foundry ops. Notably, Globalfoundries is said to be more interested in Big Blue's chip engineers and IP than its relatively old wafer fabs.
- A source states the unit has been losing as much as $1.5B/year. Its Q1 sales fell 16% Y/Y amid continued share losses to Globalfoundries, Samsung, and foundry giant TSMC (TSM -0.5%).
- Nonetheless, the business claims high-profile foundry clients such as Cisco and Juniper, and has a history of leading the way in mass-producing new chip technologies/materials, such as silicon-on-insulator (SOI) and silicon germanium (SiGe).
- That could help Globalfoundries as it tries to gain ground against TSMC, which has a long list of blue-chip mobile processor, GPU, and FPGA clients.
- The WSJ's report stated the unit has received $1B+ bids - less than the $2B+ IBM was initially seeking.
Jun. 6, 2014, 6:40 PM
- Thanks to a 25% drop in high-end storage spend, external disk storage and total disk storage sales respectively fell 5.2% and 6.9% Y/Y in Q1, says IDC. Those figures contrast with Q4 growth rates of 2.4% and 1.3%.
- Market leader EMC, which depends heavily on its high-end Symmetrix line, saw its external share fall 110 bps Y/Y to 29.1%, and its total share fall 50 bps to 22.4%. EMC previously reported its high-end sales fell 22% in Q1; strong flash/scale-out storage sales partly offset the drop.
- NetApp's (NTAP) low high-end exposure allowed its shares to grow 30 bps and 50 bps to 15.1% and 11.7%, in spite of a 2.8% revenue drop. H-P's (HPQ) external share rose 40 bps to 8.8% (3PAR strength), but its total share fell 20 bps to 15.1% (server weakness).
- Things still look bleak for IBM, which reported a 23% Y/Y Q1 system storage revenue drop: Its external share fell 200 bps to 8.8%, and its total share 180 bps to 10.1%.
- The total disk share of non-top-5 vendors rose 370 bps to 28.8%. Chalk that up to both surging demand for cloud storage (getting cheaper by the quarter) running on commodity hardware, and solid momentum for flash/hybrid storage upstarts such as Nimble (NMBL), Pure Storage, and Nutanix.
- Hard drive/assembly suppliers: STX, WDC, HTCH
Jun. 5, 2014, 7:40 PM
- Dozens of companies, including IBM and H-P (HPQ), found an unwelcome surprise in their supply chains in their search for "conflict minerals," part of the Dodd-Frank Act designed ferret out any connection to mines controlled by armed groups in the Congo: Many of their products contain North Korean gold.
- IBM, for example, disclosed that the North Korean gold was used to make its memory storage systems.
- North Korea’s central bank provides currency for the country and refines gold, but U.S. sanctions law bars importing materials from the country, even if it comes from deep within a supply chain.
- "There is still a long way to go in understanding supply chains," says an attorney who deals with conflict mineral disclosures.
- Other companies making the discovery included Ralph Lauren (RL), Rockwell Automation (ROK) and Williams-Sonoma (WSM).
Jun. 5, 2014, 2:15 AM
- Lenovo (LNVGF) and IBM (IBM) are looking to extend their deal deadline, as the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) continues the review of Lenovo's planned purchase of IBM’s low-end server unit for $2.3B.
- The CFIUS assesses acquisitions for their national-security implications, and the deal between China-based Lenovo and IBM comes at a time of tensions between the U.S. and China over spying and hacking claims.
- IBM CEO Ginni Rometty has stressed the importance of the deal, and how it could stage a comeback for IBM, as users increasingly change to cloud-computing, reducing the need for servers and mainframes.
- If approved, Lenovo has stated that the companies can seal the deal by the end of the year.
May. 30, 2014, 6:41 PM
- IDC estimates global server sales fell 2.2% Y/Y in Q1, a slightly smaller decline than the 4.4% drop seen in Q4. Gartner, however, puts the decline at 4.1%.
- The embrace of white-label hardware by Web giants continues taking a heavy toll: IDC thinks white-label sales, which it calls ODM Direct, grew 75% Y/Y (up from Q4's 47% clip) and made up 7.3% of industry revenue, up from 6.4% in Q4 and 4.1% a year ago.
- IDC estimates market leader H-P (HPQ) saw its share hold steady at 26.5%, after having grown (at IBM's expense) 260 bps Y/Y in Q4. #2 IBM, whose hardware sales have been battered, saw its share fall 600 bps Y/Y to 19.1%.
- #3 Dell's share slipped 20 bps to 18%, while #4 Cisco (CSCO), which just reported a 29% Y/Y April quarter sales jump for its UCS server segment, saw its share rise 170 bps to 5.7%. #5 Oracle (ORCL), whose server sales are finally stabilizing thanks to engineered systems growth, rose 20 bps to 4.9%.
- Sales of x86 servers, over 90% of which contain Intel (INTC) CPUs, rose 4.9% after growing 7.8% in Q4. Non-x86 server sales tumbled 25.2%, and now make up just 17.9% of industry revenue.
- Cisco now has an estimated 24.4% of the blade server market, behind only H-P's 43.7%.
May. 23, 2014, 6:43 PM
- IBM will stop selling NetApp (NTAP) storage hardware offered under the N Series label on May 27, per an internal memo picked up by Bloomberg.
- As it is, NetApp's OEM revenue (heavily dependent on IBM) fell 34% Y/Y in the April quarter to $109.8M (7% of total revenue).
- IBM's efforts to emphasize its own hardware played a role, as did Big Blue's competitive struggles - the company's total storage system sales fell 23% Y/Y in Q1, and IDC thinks its industry share fell 200 bps Y/Y in Q4 to 14%.
- On the FQ4 CC (transcript), CFO Nicholas Noviello forecast NetApp will see its OEM business decline "up to 40%" in FY15 (ends April '15). The company's branded revenue (93% of total in FQ4) is expected to grow at a mid-single digit rate.
- CEO Tom Georgens noted OEM sales include not just the N Series, but also sales of E-Series systems (high-performance SAN), which (OEM or otherwise) have been growing as a % of NetApp's revenue. He also insisted NetApp is "firmly positioned" with OEMs not named IBM.
- Previous: IBM to stop selling NetApp gear
May. 23, 2014, 3:29 PM| 1 Comment
May. 19, 2014, 6:52 PM
- IBM has bought Cognea, a startup developing virtual assistants that interact with users via A.I.-based personalities. Terms are undisclosed.
- Big Blue plans to integrate Cognea's technology with its Watson A.I. hardware/software, with the goal of allowing Watson to deliver "conversational services." Potential end-markets mentioned by the company include "virtual personal assistants, health coaches, companions for elderly people, investment advisors, tutors, travel agents, customer care agents and shopping advisors."
- Google (Now), Apple (Siri), Nuance (Dragon Mobile), and Microsoft (Cortana) are few of the companies that have already made big investments in virtual assistant platforms.
- IBM, hungry to halt double-digit server revenue declines, promised to invest over $1B in Watson in January, including $100M in startups working on software/services for Watson systems. But while the company is hoping Watson produces $10B/year in revenue in ten years, the platform had only produced $100M in revenue as of last October.
May. 14, 2014, 3:48 PM
- IBM (IBM -1.9%) execs tried to convince those at its analyst day meeting today that its business will stabilize, but apparently skepticism abounds, as shares are the weakest performer on the Dow near the close.
- CFO Martin Schroeter reiterated IBM's EPS target for 2015 of “at least $20,” a matter that was scrutinized by the Street in reports leading up to the meeting.
- Barclays analyst Ben Reitzes writes that the points discussed today are about as expected, but he's more concerned with cash flow than with the EPS goals; IBM's free cash flow has trended below non-GAAP EPS for the last two years, which could point toward longer term problems, and Reitzes sees $16B free cash flow guidance as challenging considering how much it must need working capital improvements to hit that figure.
Apr. 29, 2014, 9:47 AM| 17 Comments
Apr. 23, 2014, 3:31 PM
- Squashing rumors he's turned sour on IBM, Warren Buffett - appearing on CNBC - says he's not surprised by the company's weak Q1 results. He hasn't sold a share of the stock, he says, and expects to add more to his holdings. The stock has run about $0.50 higher on the Oracle's comments, now back to flat on the session.
Apr. 17, 2014, 2:29 PM
- Though IBM (IBM -3.2%) reiterated its 2014 EPS guidance, it was "really reset lower" given the company lowered its full-year tax rate forecast to 20% from 23%, says Cowen's Moshe Katri, reiterating a Hold. "The big issue is IBM's legacy businesses are getting hit by multiple points."
- Bernstein's Toni Sacconaghi reiterates an Outperform, but nonetheless states IBM's Q1 numbers "likely reinforced prevailing concerns about revenue growth, cash flow and earnings quality."
- Wells Fargo (Market Perform) sees some silver linings: Services margins grew, WebSphere middleware sales were up 12% Y/Y, and cloud, security, and mobility sales are growing well. But it also notes services signings of $11.2B missed a $13B consensus, and that Power (-22% Y/Y), mainframe (-40%, six quarters into a product cycle), and Chinese (-20%) sales remain weak.
- Mentioned on the CC (transcript): 1) IBM still expects to grow 2014 free cash flow from last year's $15B, in spite of producing just $600M in Q1. 2) Though $8.2B was spent on buybacks in Q1, full-year buybacks are expected to be less than 2013's $13.9B. 3) IBM's app outsourcing ops have seen "pretty substantial price pressure."
- Cloud-related revenue (boosted by SoftLayer) rose 50% Y/Y, and is now on a $2.3B/year run rate, but that still makes it less than 3% of total revenue. Meanwhile, job cuts led opex to fall 8% Y/Y to $7.4B.
- Q1 results, guidance/details, PR
Apr. 16, 2014, 5:37 PM
Apr. 16, 2014, 4:31 PM
- IBM is reiterating full-year guidance for EPS of at least $18 (consensus is at $17.84).
- Big Blue spent an eye-popping $8.2B on buybacks in Q1, up from $5.8B in Q4. That allowed EPS to nearly meet estimates in spite of a $450M revenue miss. On the other hand, IBM's tax rate (the subject of recent scrutiny) rose to 20% from Q4's 11% and Q3's 16%. A 90 bps Y/Y increase in gross margin to 47.6% also boosted EPS.
- Hardware/chip sales remain bleak: They fell 23% Y/Y vs. 26% in Q4. Software +2% vs. +3%, global technology services -3% vs. -4%, global business services flat vs. +1%, global financing +3% vs. flat. The services backlog stood at $138B at quarter's end, down $5B Q/Q and $3B Y/Y.
- Asia-Pac remains a weak spot: Sales fell 12% Y/Y. Americas were down 4%, and EMEA up 4%. "Growth markets" and BRIC sales each fell 11%.
- Q1 free cash flow was just $0.6B, well below net income of $2.6B. Cash on hand fell to $9.7B from $11.1B at the end of Q4, and non-global financing debt rose to $15.7B from $12.2B.
- Q1 results, PR
Apr. 16, 2014, 4:12 PM| 19 Comments
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