IBM Posts Gains as Customers Accelerate Shift to Cloud

HIGHLIGHTS
  • Revenue from the cloud business rose 30 percent to $6.3 billion
  • IBM’s total revenue fell 5.4 percent to $18.12 billion
  • The company’s shares rose 5 percent in after-hours trading

International Business Machines (IBM) beat estimates for second-quarter profit on Monday and signalled that demand in its cloud computing business would get a boost as large corporations accelerate their digital shift due to the coronavirus crisis.

The company’s shares rose 5 percent in after-hours trading.

IBM has jettisoned some of its legacy business to focus on the high-margin cloud computing business, an area that has seen a lot of action in recent years as companies ramp up their digital shift to boost efficiency.

“The trend we see in the market is clear. Clients want to modernise apps, move more workloads to the cloud and automate IT tasks,” IBM’s new boss Arvind Krishna said on a post-earnings call with analysts.

Revenue from the cloud business, previously headed by Krishna, rose 30 percent to $6.3 billion (roughly Rs. 47,000 crores) in the second quarter.

Krishna took over as chief executive officer from Ginni Rometty in April, while appointing former Bank of America Corp’s top technology executive, Howard Boville, as the new head of the cloud business.

IBM’s global business services unit was impacted as clients cut or delayed spending on discretionary projects due to COVID-19, CFO James Kavanaugh told Reuters. Sales in the unit fell 7 percent to $3.9 billion (roughly Rs. 29,151 crores).

While Western Europe and Asia Pacific showed a pickup in client spending during June, US, and Latin America customers pulled back as the pandemic impact got worse, Kavanaugh said.

“From a client perspective, our business is more concentrated in large enterprises, which in total have been relatively more stable throughout the pandemic,” Kavanaugh said.

IBM’s total revenue fell 5.4 percent to $18.12 billion (roughly Rs. 1.35 lakh crores), but came in above analysts’ estimates of $17.72 billion (roughly Rs. 1.32 lakh crores), according to IBES data from Refinitiv. Excluding the impact from currency and business divestitures, revenue declined 1.9 percent.

Excluding items, the company earned $2.18 per share (roughly Rs. 160), above estimates of $2.07 (roughly Rs. 150).