Should You Take a Chance With IBM?

With shares of International Business Machines (NYSE:IBM) trading around $183, is IBM an OUTPERFORM, WAIT AND SEE, or STAY AWAY? Let’s analyze the stock with the relevant sections of our CHEAT SHEET investing framework.

T = Trends for a Stock’s Movement

IBM is an information technology company. The company operates in five segments: Global Technology Services, Global Business Services, Software, Systems and Technology, and Global Financing. Technology products and services are in high demand worldwide, as consumers want to be up to speed and companies always need the latest and greatest to stay ahead of the competition. Cloud computing has been hot in recent times, which has not been good news for IBM. Should the company want to hold on to its market share, it needs to make moves quickly and provide the technology products and services that worldwide consumers and companies demand.

According to a recent report from Forbes, IBM has begun a slew of massive layoffs in its India operations that have left workers in the country — who are not used to American-style firings — quite upset. Forbes said the job cuts have begun at a plant in Bangalore and are expected to spread throughout the country. One worker likened the plant to a “slaughter house” in the wake of the firings. “People broke down after seeing the inhuman treatment,” the person wrote in the Alliance@IBM employees’ union website, per Forbes. “Many employees were seen crying and exiting the building,” the person continued.

Workers at the Systems and Technology Group operations in Bangalore were called into a meeting on Wednesday, where their laptops were taken away and they were asked to leave the building immediately. They were given an average of six weeks worth of pay for their severance packages. Forbes said that it’s not incredibly uncommon for workers in India to be fired, but Indian companies usually don’t engage in the “cut and exit” strategy frequently used in the West, so the layoffs were especially upsetting to the IBM employees who lost their jobs. “You treated Indians like resource widgets. These people are human beings,” said one angry posting by Solidarity4IBMIndia, per Forbes.

T = Technicals on the Stock Chart Are Mixed

IBM stock has struggled to make significant progress in the last several years. However, the stock is currently surging higher and looks set to continue this path. Analyzing the price trend and its strength can be done using key simple moving averages. What are the key moving averages? The 50-day (pink), 100-day (blue), and 200-day (yellow) simple moving averages. As seen in the daily price chart below, IBM is trading between its rising key averages, which signals neutral price action in the near-term.


Source: Thinkorswim

Taking a look at the implied volatility (red) and implied volatility skew levels of IBM options may help determine if investors are bullish, neutral, or bearish.

Implied Volatility (IV)

30-Day IV Percentile

90-Day IV Percentile

IBM options




What does this mean? This means that investors or traders are buying a small amount of call and put options contracts as compared to the last 30 and 90 trading days.

Put IV Skew

Call IV Skew

March Options



April Options



As of Monday, there is average demand from call and put buyers or sellers, all neutral over the next two months. To summarize, investors are buying a small amount of call and put option contracts and are leaning neutral over the next two months.

On the next page, let’s take a look at the earnings and revenue growth rates and the conclusion.

E = Earnings Are Mixed Quarter-Over-Quarter

Rising stock prices are often strongly correlated with rising earnings and revenue growth rates. Also, the last four quarterly earnings announcement reactions help gauge investor sentiment on IBM’s stock. What do the last four quarterly earnings and revenue growth (Y-O-Y) figures for IBM look like and more importantly, how did the markets like these numbers?

2013 Q4

2013 Q3

2013 Q2

2013 Q1

Earnings Growth (Y-O-Y)





Revenue Growth (Y-O-Y)





Earnings Reaction





IBM has seen increasing earnings and decreasing revenue figures over the last four quarters. From these numbers, the markets have been pleased with IBM’s recent earnings announcements.

P = Weak Relative Performance Versus Peers and Sector

How has IBM stock done relative to its peers – HP (NYSE:HPQ), Oracle (NYSE:ORCL), and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) — and sector?






Year-to-Date Return






IBM has been a poor relative performer, year-to-date.


IBM is a global technology company that provides essential products and services to companies and consumers worldwide. The company has begun a slew of massive layoffs in its India operations that have left workers in the country quite upset. The stock has been struggling over the last couple of years but is currently surging higher. Over the last four quarters, earnings have been rising while revenues have been declining, which has left investors pleased about IBM’s earnings announcements. Relative to its peers and sector, IBM has been a poor year-to-date performer. WAIT AND SEE what IBM does next.

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