Cognos is a web-based suite of tools from IBM that offers a full range of business intelligence (BI) capabilities including reports, analysis, dashboards, scorecards, mobile BI and more. Cognos is Purdue’s primary Business Intelligence(BI) tool and is used to access many of the university’s BI environments including those to access student-related data.
Cognos is the system Purdue uses for official reporting on Purdue student data. If you’d like to learn about how to request Cognos access, please visit the Business Intelligence Competency Center Website.
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Today’s AI systems are quickly evolving to become humans’ new best friend. We now have AIs that can concoct award-winning whiskey, write poetry, and help doctors perform extremely precise surgical operations. But one thing they can’t do — which is, on the surface, far simpler than all those other things — is use common sense.
Common sense is different from intelligence in that it is usually something innate and natural to humans that helps them navigate daily life, and cannot really be taught. In 1906, philosopher G. K. Chesterton wrote that “common sense is a wild thing, savage, and beyond rules.”
Robots, of course, run on algorithms that are just that: rules.
So no, robots can’t use common sense — yet. But thanks to current efforts in the field, we can now measure an AI’s core psychological reasoning ability, bringing us one step closer.
Really it comes down to the fact that common sense will make AI better at helping us solve real-world issues. Many argue that AI-driven solutions designed for complex problems, like diagnosing Covid-19 treatments for example, often fail, as the system can’t readily adapt to a real-world situation where the problems are unpredictable, vague, and not defined by rules.
Common sense includes not only social abilities and reasoning but also a “naive sense of physics.”
Injecting common sense into AI could mean big things for humans; better customer service, where a robot can actually assist a disgruntled customer beyond sending them into an endless “Choose from the following options” loop. It can make autonomous cars react better to unexpected roadway incidences. It can even help the military draw life-or-death information from intelligence.
So why haven’t scientists been able to crack the common sense code thus far?
Called the “dark matter of AI”, common sense is both crucial to AI’s future development and, thus far, elusive. Equipping computers with common sense has actually been a goal of computer science since the field’s very start; in 1958, pioneering computer scientist John McCarthy published a paper titled “Programs with common sense” which looked at how logic could be used as a method of representing information in computer memory. But we’ve not moved much closer to making it a reality since.
Common sense includes not only social abilities and reasoning but also a “naive sense of physics” — this means that we know certain things about physics without having to work through physics equations, like why you shouldn’t put a bowling ball on a slanted surface. It also includes basic knowledge of abstract things like time and space, which lets us plan, estimate, and organize. “It’s knowledge that you ought to have,” says Michael Witbrock, AI researcher at the University of Auckland.
All this means that common sense is not one precise thing, and therefore cannot be easily defined by rules.
We’ve established that common sense requires a computer to infer things based on complex, real-world situations — something that comes easily to humans, and starts to form since infancy.
Computer scientists are making (slow) but steady progress toward building AI agents that can infer mental states, predict future actions, and work with humans. But in order to see how close we actually are, we first need a rigorous benchmark for evaluating an AI’s “common sense,” or its psychological reasoning ability.
Researchers from IBM, MIT, and Harvard have created just that: AGENT, which stands for Action-Goal-Efficiency-coNstraint-uTility. After testing and validation, this benchmark is shown to be able to evaluate the core psychological reasoning ability of an AI model. This means it can actually supply a sense of social awareness and could interact with humans in real-world settings.
To demonstrate common sense, an AI model must have built-in representations of how humans plan.
So what is AGENT? AGENT is a large-scale dataset of 3D animations inspired by experiments that study cognitive development in kids. The animations depict someone interacting with different objects under different physical constraints. According to IBM:
“The videos comprise distinct trials, each of which includes one or more ‘familiarization’ videos of an agent’s typical behavior in a certain physical environment, paired with ‘test’ videos of the same agent’s behavior in a new environment, which are labeled as either ‘expected’ or ‘surprising,’ given the behavior of the agent in the corresponding familiarization videos.”
A model must then judge how surprising the agent’s behaviors in the ‘test’ videos are, based on the actions it learned in the ‘familiarization’ videos. Using the AGENT benchmark, that model is then validated against large-scale human-rating trials, where humans rated the ‘surprising’ ‘test’ videos as more surprising than the ‘expected’ test videos.
IBM’s trial shows that to demonstrate common sense, an AI model must have built-in representations of how humans plan. This means combining both a basic sense of physics and ‘cost-reward trade-offs’, which means an understanding of how humans take actions “based on utility, trading off the rewards of its goal against the costs of reaching it.”
While not yet perfect, the findings show AGENT is a promising diagnostic tool for developing and evaluating common sense in AI, something IBM is also working on. It also shows that we can utilize similar traditional developmental psychology methods to those used to teach human children how objects and ideas relate.
In the future, this could help significantly reduce the need for training in these models allowing businesses to save on computing energy, time, and money.
Robots don’t understand human consciousness yet — but with the development of benchmarking tools like AGENT, we’ll be able to measure how close we’re getting.
“We can‘t be essential unless our partners are skilled in our products and confident in going to their clients with our products and selling them with us and for IBM,” IBM channel chief Kate Woolley said.
IBM has started giving registered members of its PartnerWorld program access to the training, badges and enablement IBM sales employees get along with a new learning hub for accessing materials.
The expansion is part of the Armonk, N.Y.-based tech giant’s investment in its partner program, IBM channel chief Kate Woolley told CRN in an interview.
“We can‘t be essential unless our partners are skilled in our products and confident in going to their clients with our products and selling them with us and for IBM,” said Woolley (pictured), general manager of the IBM ecosystem.
[RELATED: Channel Chief Kate Woolley: ‘No Better Time To Be An IBM Partner’]
Partners now have access to sales and technical badges showing industry expertise, according to a blog post Tuesday. Badges are shareable on LinkedIn and other professional social platforms. IBM sales representatives and partners will receive new content at the same time as it becomes available.
“This is the next step in that journey in terms of making sure that all of our registered partners have access to all of the same training, all of the same enablement materials as IBMers,” Woolley told CRN. “That’s the big message that we want people to hear. And then also in line with continuing to make it easier to do business with IBM, this has all been done through a much improved digital experience in terms of how our partners are able to access and consume.”
Among the materials available to IBM partners are scripts for sales demonstrations, templates for sales presentations and positioning offerings compared to competitors, white papers, analyst reports and solution briefs. Skilling and enablement materials are available through a new learning hub IBM has launched.
“The partners are telling us they want more expertise on their teams in terms of the IBM products that they‘re able to sell and how equipped they are to sell them,” Woolley said. “And as we look at what we’re hearing from clients as well, clients want that. … Our clients are saying, ‘We want more technical expertise. We want more experiential selling. We want IBM’ – and that means the IBM ecosystem as well – ‘to have all of that expertise and to have access to all the right enablement material to be able to engage with us as clients.’”
The company has doubled the number of brand-specialized partner sellers in the ecosystem and increased the number of technical partner sellers by more than 35 percent, according to IBM.
The company’s recent program changes have led to improved deal registration and introduced to partners more than 7,000 potential deals valued at more than $500 million globally, according to IBM. Those numbers are based on IBM sales data from January 2022 to August.
Along with the expanded access to training and enablement resources, Woolley told CRN that another example of aligning the IBM sales force and partners was a single sales kickoff event for employees and partners. A year ago, two separate events were held.
“I want our partners to continue to feel and see this as a big investment in them and representative of how focused we are on the ecosystem and how invested we are,” she said.
A four-year bachelor’s degree has long been the first rung to climbing America’s corporate ladder.
But the move to prioritize skills over a college education is sweeping through some of America’s largest companies, including Google, EY, Microsoft, and Apple. Strong proponents say the shift helps circumvent a needless barrier to workplace diversity.
“I really do believe an inclusive diverse workforce is better for your company, it’s good for the business,” Ginni Rometty, former IBM CEO, told Fortune Media CEO Alan Murray during a panel last month for Connect, Fortune’s executive education community. “That’s not just altruistic.”
Under Rometty’s leadership in 2016, tech giant IBM coined the term “new collar jobs” in reference to roles that require a specific set of skills rather than a four-year degree. It’s a personal commitment for Rometty, one that hits close to home for the 40-year IBM veteran.
When Rometty was 16, her father left the family, leaving her mother, who’d never worked outside the home, suddenly in the position to provide.
“She had four children and nothing past high school, and she had to get a job to…get us out of this downward spiral,” Rometty recalled to Murray. “What I saw in that was that my mother had aptitude; she wasn’t dumb, she just didn’t have access, and that forever stayed in my mind.”
When Rometty became CEO in 2012 following the Great Recession, the U.S. unemployment rate hovered around 8%. Despite the influx of applicants, she struggled to find employees who were trained in the particular cybersecurity area she was looking for.
“I realized I couldn’t hire them, so I had to start building them,” she said.
In 2011, IBM launched a corporate social responsibility effort called the Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH) in Brooklyn. It’s since expanded to 11 states in the U.S. and 28 countries.
Through P-TECH, Rometty visited “a very poor high school in a bad neighborhood” that received the company’s support, as well as a community college where IBM was offering help with a technology-based curriculum and internships.
“Voilà! These kids could do the work. I didn’t have [applicants with] college degrees, so I learned that propensity to learn is way more important than just having a degree,” Rometty said.
Realizing the students were fully capable of the tasks that IBM needed moved Rometty to return to the drawing board when it came to IBM’s own application process and whom it was reaching. She said that at the time, 95% of job openings at IBM required a four-year degree. As of January 2021, less than half do, and the company is continuously reevaluating its roles.
For the jobs that now no longer require degrees and instead rely on skills and willingness to learn, IBM had always hired Ph.D. holders from the very best Ivy League schools, Rometty told Murray. But data shows that the degree-less hires for the same jobs performed just as well. “They were more loyal, higher retention, and many went on to get college degrees,” she said.
Rometty has since become cochair of OneTen, a civic organization committed to hiring, promoting, and advancing 1 million Black individuals without four-year degrees within the next 10 years.
If college degrees no longer become compulsory for white-collar jobs, many other qualifications—skills that couldn’t be easily taught in a boot camp, apprenticeship program, or in the first month on the job—could die off, too, University of Virginia Darden School of Business professor Sean Martin told Fortune last year.
“The companies themselves miss out on people that research suggests…might be less entitled, more culturally savvy, more desirous of being there,” Martin said. Rather than pedigree, he added, hiring managers should look for motivation.
That’s certainly the case at IBM. Once the company widened its scope, Rometty said, the propensity to learn quickly became more of an important hiring factor than just a degree.
This story was originally featured on Fortune.com
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Quantum computing will bring unimagined innovations to the world when it finally arrives in full glory. Still, quantum remains in the research labs at companies like IBM, Google, and Microsoft. While companies and research institutions are investing billions of dollars to increase the capacity of quantum systems, a time will come in the following years, or decades, when researchers will reach "quantum supremacy." But these large quantum marvels could also jeopardize the security of critical information systems. Researchers, including IBM are working to develop new security algorithms that will be resilient to these attacks.
While quantum can solve computing challenges far beyond what is possible today, its ability to find the factors of large prime numbers makes it the ideal cybersecurity safe cracker once quantum computing systems mature in their scale, quality, and speed. Every computer system and every bit of "secure" data could become vulnerable to attack from quantum-equipped nefarious actors. The World Economic Forum "estimate(s) that over 20 billion digital devices will need to be either upgraded or replaced in the next 10-20 years to use the new forms of quantum-resistant encrypted communication. We recommend that organizations start planning for this now.”
What constitutes "adequate size" might supply us some false comfort: a 2019 study suggested that a computer with 20 million qubits would take eight hours to break modern encryption. Today's quantum computers are on the order of only 100 qubits. But while that implies that the threat is in the distant future, one must consider that a bad actor doesn't need to wait for the massive quantum system to materialize. The "Steal now, crack later" approach leads to a latent future security threat. Consequently, organizations should deploy quantum-safe security as soon as possible to minimize future risk.
Consequently, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), a bureau of the U.S. Department of Commerce, has been conducting an ongoing search for quantum-safe security algorithms that are both secure and efficient. After all, we need our laptops, cars, and mobile phones to also be able to resist attacks from quantum-equipped bad actors. After four rounds of submissions, NIST selected four algorithms from a slate of 82 candidates. IBM Research had submitted 3 of the four chosen algorithms. All submissions have been subjected to research by industry scrutiny by government agencies, academic scientists, and mathematicians. This process is now reaching its conclusion; the NIST is expected to publish standards based on these 4 algorithms sometime in 2024.
The NIST contest covers the two aspects of security that could be vulnerable to quantum computing: public key encapsulation (used for public-key encryption and key establishment) and digital signatures (used for identity authentication and non-repudiation). For the former, NIST selected the CRYSTALS-Kyber algorithm. NIST selected three algorithms for signatures: CRYSTALS-Dilithium, FALCON, and SPHINCS+, with CRYSTALS-Dilithium as the primary algorithm in the signature category.
On September 29, GSMA announced the formation of the GSMA Post-Quantum Telco Network Taskforce, of which IBM and Vodafone are initial members, to help define policy, regulation and operator business processes to enhance protections of telecommunications in a future of advanced quantum computing. Since virtually all organizations and sectors conduct commerce on the internet, and the 800 providers whose pipes that carry all the internet traffic, the Telco industry is a good place to start. We expect other sectors to follow suit, perhaps starting with banking, government, and health care.
Given the magnitude of the potential risks, and the predominance of IBM Z systems in security-critical applications, IBM has included future-proof digital signature support in its latest z16 mainframe using CRYSTALS-Kyber and CRYSTALS -Dilithium algorithms selected by NIST. z16 implements this algorithm across multiple layers of firmware to help protect business-critical infrastructure and data from future quantum attacks. IBM has said it is also working to bring these new methods to the broader market.
In addition, IBM has developed a multi-step process to assist clients toward rapidly making institutions quantum safe. The company works with clients to identify where they are vulnerable to quantum-based cryptography attacks, assess cryptographic maturity and dependencies, and identify near-term achievable cryptographic goals and projects. The risks clients may face vary substantially based on the type of applications and data an organization handles and the state of its current cryptography.
Quantum computing's potential threat to global information security may seem to be a distant and abstract risk. However, the inevitable advances of quantum technology and the "Steal now, crack later" approach bad actors are undertaking to make quantum-safe a genuine and pressing matter for vendors and IT organizations. IBM wasted no time bringing that technology to market in the IBM z16. IBM Research has contributed three of the four algorithms the NIST quantum-safe contest has selected to be the most viable, secure, and efficient of the 70 techniques evaluated.
Beyond the NIST-approved algorithms, IBM Is working to provide “crypto agility”, helping organizations not only replace the soon-to-fail existing algorithms but also transform their security practices to remain resilient as new threats emerge in the post-quantum world. Creating crypto observability, enabling ongoing monitoring and actions on crypto-related security items, will help keep the world safer from bad actors with virtually unlimited computing capacity at their disposal.
More information can be found at here.
Disclosures: This article expresses the opinions of the authors, and is not to be taken as advice to purchase from nor invest in the companies mentioned. Cambrian AI Research is fortunate to have many, if not most, semiconductor firms as our clients, including Blaize, Cerebras, D-Matrix, Esperanto, FuriosaAI, Graphcore, GML, IBM, Intel, Mythic, NVIDIA, Qualcomm Technologies, Si-Five, SiMa.ai, Synopsys, and Tenstorrent. We have no investment positions in any of the companies mentioned in this article and do not plan to initiate any in the near future. For more information, please visit our website at https://cambrian-AI.com.
There's no denying it: This year's been a pretty lousy one for the market. The S&P 500 (^GSPC 2.59%) is down 23% year to date, and is sitting within easy reach of a new 52-week low. Blame the rout suffered by several key technology stocks, mostly, paving the way for most other equities.
There's a curious exception to this market-wide and tech sector weakness that's worth noting. IBM (IBM 2.11%) is holding up surprisingly well in the otherwise miserable environment. And it's arguably doing so for all the right reasons despite the specter of a recession. Here are the top three reasons.
If the economy sours enough, it will take a toll on all businesses, with corporations being forced into extreme austerity. That's a worst-case scenario that doesn't seem a likely threat to IBM, though.
The company might not be positioned for significant growth, but it is positioned to generate revenue in almost any economic environment. Around one-third of its revenue stems from consulting work, while more than one-third comes from software sales.
These aren't your typical consulting and software businesses, however. Much of it is contractual, meaning its client companies have pre-arranged access to employees or software for a specified period of time. Its annualized recurring software revenue, for example, now stands at $12.9 billion, making up roughly half of its current yearly software sales. Moreover, its software includes cybersecurity, data analysis, artificial intelligence, hybrid cloud computing, and transaction processing. These are service-based software suites that most of its customers rely on in a big way.
The kicker: CFO James Kavanaugh said a couple of years ago, "[For every $1 worth of business on a hybrid cloud platform], another $3 to $5 is
spent on software and another $6 to $8 on the cloud services." In other words, sales of hardware drive long-term software and consulting revenue, yet IBM's unique software and consulting offerings also drive hardware sales. It's a self-powering virtuous cycle.
IBM's solutions aren't something major enterprises can easily replace or simply stop using. In fact, the company argues that technology becomes an even more important growth driver when stagflation stifles traditional growth efforts.
Many companies make acquisitions to increase their revenue without much thought about where or how they fit in. But IBM's deals are made with purpose rather than rooted in status and stature. For instance, in July, the company announced its purchase of Databand.ai, adding the ability to spot errant digital data to the company's data-management arm. Earlier this year, it bought Neudesic, which operates a hybrid cloud consulting business specializing in Microsoft's Azure cloud platform.
None of the six deals the company has made this year have been particularly high-profile acquisitions. Neither have any of the other 20-plus acquisitions CEO Arvind Krishna has directed since taking the helm from Ginni Rometty in early 2020. IBM hasn't made any large-scale deals since buying Red Hat in 2019, in fact. But the smaller companies it's scooping up make its products more marketable.
While the recent acquisitions have been relatively small, analysts at Evercore ISI (EVR 1.74%) suggest IBM could be mulling an acquisition worth as much as $30 billion, potentially pushing the company into an all-new line of business that creates synergy with its existing ones.
Lastly, IBM might never dish out enormous organic growth again, but it offers something even more valuable to investors amid economic weakness: a healthy dividend. It currently yields 5.2%, and given the consistent recurring revenue of much of its business as well as how well its payouts are covered, there's no reason to fear this dividend is in jeopardy.
Investors in tune with the company's fiscals might not completely agree. Last fiscal year, IBM dished out $6.55 per share in dividends, but the company only earned $6.41 per share. That's clearly not sustainable.
But it was a year complicated by COVID-19 and more corporate restructuring. In November, IBM completed the spinoff of its managed infrastructure business now called Kyndryl (KD 3.95%). While spinoffs don't technically incur direct operational costs, they can often take an indirect toll on a company's focus and ability to adapt to changing market conditions. IBM hasn't exactly escaped inflationary pressures and the fallout from broken supply chains, either.
Regardless, the company's bottom line is growing again. Analysts collectively expect per-share earnings of $9.34 this year, followed by an improvement to $10.05 next year. That's far more than enough to continue funding the dividend and extend its 27-year streak of annual dividend growth.
Dividends may not be your thing. Amid economic uncertainty, though, collecting good income becomes a pretty big deal.
By The Valuentum Team
International Business Machines Corporation (NYSE:IBM) has become a fundamentally different business in the past few years, one focused on providing hybrid cloud computing offerings. The company is a stellar free cash flow generator which enables IBM to reward investors via generous dividend increases, with shares of IBM yielding ~5.1% as of this writing. Substantial near-term headwinds remain, largely due to the various exogenous shocks seen of late (such as major inflationary pressures, rising interest rates, supply chain hurdles, and raging geopolitical tensions), though IBM is still worth considering as a high-yielding income generation idea.
IBM solves business problems via integrated hardware/software solutions that leverage IT and its knowledge of business processes. Its solutions help reduce a client's costs or enable new capabilities that generate revenue. The company was founded in 1924 and is headquartered in New York.
Back in 2019, IBM bought Red Hat (a top provider of open source cloud software) through a ~$34 billion deal which made IBM a contending hybrid cloud provider. IBM is looking to seize what it describes as a ~$1 trillion hybrid cloud opportunity, and recent growth in this area has been encouraging. IBM's revamped management team is working hard to turn things around after the company made various blunders during the 2010s decade. Its current Chairman and CEO, Arvind Krishna, has done a solid job righting the ship at IBM since taking on the top role in 2020.
In November 2021, IBM spun off its legacy business tax-free to shareholders as a new publicly traded entity, Kyndryl Holdings, Inc. (KD). Initially, IBM retained a 19.9% stake in Kyndryl though the firm intends to exit that position within 12 months of the spinoff.
On July 18, IBM reported earnings for the second quarter of 2022 that beat both consensus top- and bottom-line estimates. Its GAAP revenues rose by 9% year-over-year to hit $15.5 billion with strong growth at its Red Hat, various consulting services, and hybrid infrastructure offerings being key here. When removing foreign currency headwinds arising from the strong US dollar seen of late from the picture, IBM's non-GAAP constant currency revenues were up 16% year-over-year last quarter. IBM's portfolio optimization efforts are having a very powerful impact on its financial performance.
The firm's GAAP gross margin fell by ~185 basis points year-over-year last quarter, falling down to 55.4%. However, economies of scale helped drive its GAAP income from continuing operations up by 81% year-over-year in the second quarter, rising to $1.5 billion. There is some noise here due to the separation of IBM's legacy businesses (via the spinoff of Kyndryl) from its core operations. Keeping that noise in mind, IBM's underlying operations have performed quite well of late.
During its second quarter earnings call, IBM's management team noted the firm now forecasted that its full-year free cash flows would come in near $10.0 billion in 2022, at the low end of its previous forecast. IBM generated $3.6 billion in free cash flow (defined as net operating cash flow less 'payments for property, plant, and equipment' and 'investment in software') while spending $3.0 billion covering its dividend obligations during the first half of 2022. Its modest share repurchases during this period were related to tax withholding purposes as the new IBM is focused on retaining cash to invest in the business. We appreciate that IBM's dividend obligations remain well-covered by its traditional free cash flows.
The company exited June 2022 with a net debt load of $42.8 billion (inclusive of short-term debt, exclusive of restricted cash). One of the biggest risks to IBM's dividend is its large net debt load. IBM had $7.6 billion in cash, cash equivalents, and current marketable securities on hand at the end of June 2022 which provides the company with ample liquidity to meet its near-term funding needs.
IBM continues to expect that its constant currency revenues will grow decently this year (in the mid-single digit range), though sustained foreign currency headwinds are expected to offset strong demand for its offerings, to a degree. Over the long haul, we forecast that under its new management team, IBM will return to stable revenue growth which in turn should see the company's free cash flows swell higher. That would allow IBM to boost its dividend in a sustainable manner going forward, though we caution that its net debt load could limit the size of any future payout increases.
The Dividend Cushion Ratio Deconstruction, shown in the image up above, reveals the numerator and denominator of the Dividend Cushion ratio. At the core, the larger the numerator, or the healthier a company's balance sheet and future free cash flow generation, relative to the denominator, or a company's cash dividend obligations, the more durable the dividend.
The Dividend Cushion Ratio Deconstruction image puts sources of free cash in the context of financial obligations next to expected cash dividend payments over the next 5 years on a side-by-side comparison. Because the Dividend Cushion ratio and many of its components are forward-looking, our dividend evaluation may change upon subsequent updates as future forecasts are altered to reflect new information.
In the context of the Dividend Cushion ratio, IBM's numerator is smaller than its denominator, which suggests weak forward-looking dividend coverage. However, given IBM's strong and stable cash flow profile, we view its forward-looking dividend coverage favorably when considering IBM's ability to tap capital markets into account. Should IBM stumble for any reason, its ability to make good on its payout may be in danger.
The best measure of a firm's ability to create value for shareholders is expressed by comparing its return on invested capital ['ROIC'] with its weighted average cost of capital ['WACC']. The gap or difference between ROIC and WACC is called the firm's economic profit spread. IBM's 3-year historical return on invested capital (without goodwill) is 41.6%, which is above the estimate of its cost of capital of 9.2%.
In the chart down below, we show the probable path of ROIC in the years ahead based on the estimated volatility of key drivers behind the measure. The solid grey line reflects the most likely outcome, in our opinion, and represents the scenario that results in our fair value estimate. Assuming IBM's recent portfolio optimization efforts go as planned, the firm's ability to generate shareholder value (which historically has been impressive) should continue to improve.
Our discounted cash flow process values each firm on the basis of the present value of all future free cash flows, net of balance sheet considerations. We think IBM is worth $136 per share with a fair value range of $101-$171 per share. Shares of IBM are trading moderately below our fair value estimate as of this writing.
The near-term operating forecasts used in our enterprise cash flow model, including revenue and earnings, do not differ much from consensus estimates or management guidance. Our model reflects a compound annual revenue growth rate of 3.4% during the next five years, a pace that is higher than the firm's 3-year historical compound annual growth rate of -10.3%.
Our model reflects a 5-year projected average operating margin of 17.6%, which is above IBM's trailing 3-year average. Beyond Year 5, we assume free cash flow will grow at an annual rate of 2% for the next 15 years and 3% in perpetuity. For IBM, we use a 9.2% weighted average cost of capital to discount future free cash flows.
Although we estimate IBM's fair value at about $136 per share, every company has a range of probable fair values that's created by the uncertainty of key valuation drivers (like future revenue or earnings, for example). After all, if the future were known with certainty, we wouldn't see much volatility in the markets as stocks would trade precisely at their known fair values.
In the graphic up above, we show this probable range of fair values for IBM. We think the firm is attractive below $101 per share (the green line), but quite expensive above $171 per share (the red line). The prices that fall along the yellow line, which includes our fair value estimate, represent a reasonable valuation for the firm, in our opinion.
The steady decline in IBM's legacy business since 2010 represents a major reason why the firm spun off Kyndryl in November 2021. Going forward, IBM will need to prove that as a leaner and more focused enterprise, it can maintain solid revenue and operating income growth over the long haul. We think that will be the case, though substantial near-term headwinds remain. Investors looking for an income generation idea backed up by a strong cash flow profile should take a closer look at IBM.
Investors this year increasingly turned away from dividend stocks in favor of the rising yields being offered on bonds. Given that investors can now earn a 4.3% return on a 2-year Treasury note, many prefer that guaranteed return to the risks of putting money into the stock market.
International Business Machines (IBM 2.11%) offers a dividend yield that exceeds that bond return. But with a bear market in progress, are investors better served to take a chance on the cloud stock or to take the 4.3% return at virtually zero risk?
IBM didn't participate in the bull market of the 2010s. The stock dropped as its tech businesses suffered a considerable growth slowdown. In an effort to change that, IBM pivoted into the cloud computing sector aggressively, in part via its $34 billion purchase of Red Hat in 2019. Grand View Research forecasts a compound annual growth rate of 16% through 2030 for the cloud industry. Growth like that could certainly help both IBM and its stock.
Also, IBM spun off its managed infrastructure business into a new public company, Kyndryl. This business was less of a fit with the parent company amid its pivot to the cloud. Separating it off should make it easier for IBM to grow its revenue.
Time will tell if these moves can help the stock price recover. Nonetheless, IBM currently pays its shareholders $1.65 per share every quarter, or $6.60 per share annually. At the current stock price, that adds up to a yield of 5.6% per year. Moreover, depending on your financial situation, the IRS may tax your dividends at a lower capital gains rate, which can offer an added advantage.
Additionally, IBM hiked its payout annually for 27 consecutive years, making it a Dividend Aristocrat. That status carries some importance as many income investors will be more inclined to buy and hold IBM stock because of this status. Also, since abandoning Dividend Aristocrat status tends to hurt a stock, management will probably prioritize maintaining it by continuing to raise those payouts.
Investors also can also reinvest their dividend payments into more IBM stock. However, such newly purchased shares will pay you the dividend yield at that time. The return will rise if the stock falls since investors can buy the exact cash return at a lower price. Conversely, cash yields will drop if the stock rises, but those investors still benefit since the stock has increased in value.
U.S. Treasury notes offer more stability than stocks such as IBM. Investors who purchase the 2-year Treasury note receive semiannual interest payments. At the current interest rate of 4.3%, investors will receive a 2.15% cash return on their invested amount in each of the subsequent three six-month periods. In the fourth period, when the note matures, investors receive the final 2.15% payment along with the return of their principal.
Investors should also be aware that bond values can fluctuate. If interest rates drop, the value of the bond will fall; the opposite will happen if rates rise. This affects investors if they decide to sell the bond early. Upon maturity, the note will return to its par (or nominal) value.
Additionally, bond interest payments are subject to federal income tax but exempt from state and local taxes. In some cases, this is higher than taxes on dividends. Still, bond issuers are obligated to make such payments. In contrast, IBM faces no legal obligation to continue its dividend.
Also, like with a stock, investors can reinvest their interest payments into more notes or other forms of Treasury bonds. However, those purchases will be subject to the prevailing interest rates at that time.
Investors who lack much risk tolerance should choose the Treasury note. Given its guaranteed return, they will not have to worry about volatility.
Nonetheless, for investors comfortable with buying stocks, IBM is a surprisingly strong buy. The cloud industry is in growth mode, which should propel IBM stock to a long-awaited turnaround. Moreover, IBM has repeatedly shown it wants to hold on to its Dividend Aristocrat status. This should supply its income investors returns that are not only larger than the bonds offer, but also likely to increase in size.
This is looking like a throw-the-baby-out-with-the-bathwater market. Take Tuesday trading: 490 of the S&P 500 stocks are lower after August inflation came in hotter than expected.
Most stocks are having a lousy year, but not all stocks have deserved the same fate. And many stocks have seen their price/earnings ratio collapse to seemingly attractive levels.