As many of our readers know by now, we have spent the majority of 2022 looking to bolster our equity portfolios with names that should be able to better withstand a higher interest rate environment and a potential recession. Focusing on companies with stable revenues, relatively predictable earnings and respectable dividend yields has helped shelter us from some of the carnage that has resulted from the bear market. One name that has been a surprise in our portfolios in 2022 is International Business Machines (NYSE:IBM). IBM has returned 4.68% while also paying what was a nearly 5% yield; so the YTD total return is above 7%. Not bad at all when the market has entered a bear market and the S&P 500 is down over 18% in the same period.
While we like IBM long-term, in a bear market the best plan of action is to always be willing to take action. We have been selling covered calls on IBM shares we own in various portfolios throughout 2022 when it made sense, but with earnings season upon us, we revisited the stock and IBM's business prospects to see how we would trade the stock across various client portfolios.
Part of managing money is revisiting portfolio holdings and past trades. One exercise we like to do each morning is browse through the portfolios and see if there is anything that we are no longer interested in owning at current prices or based off of accurate news (and if we identify anything, then we have to decide the best way to trade those holdings moving forward). Doing that exercise this weekend caused us to take a deeper look at IBM and weigh how we thought the stock might perform with earnings coming out Monday night.
With the U.S. Federal Reserve raising interest rates at a relentless pace while Japan, the EU and China all struggle economically right now and hold off on tightening, the U.S. Dollar has been on a tear.
Why does this matter? Well based on 2022 Q1 revenues, the Americas represented 50% of IBM's revenues. The company's revenues in Europe, Middle East & Africa (EMEA) and Asia Pacific were 29.58% and 20.42%, respectively. So even if IBM is extremely well hedged on the currency front and finds a way to offset currency headwinds with new business, with over 50% of revenues coming from outside of the United States, and a reluctance of other central banks to move aggressively (namely the EU and Japanese), then eventually the U.S. Dollar's strength is going to provide a significant headwind. Will that be this quarter, next quarter, or a year from now? We are not sure on the exact timing, but we do know that the impact will eventually be felt and that it could be sooner rather than later.
IBM has even discussed this in previous quarter's earnings calls, with the below slide attached to their Q1 2022 quarterly results materials.
While currency is a real concern, we also have some questions about IBM's ability to recognize revenue on historical timelines. We have heard stories from friends in the industry where they are unable to bill for IT consulting services, or those on the other side of the deal not paying for IT consulting services because they are waiting to take delivery of product for installation, etc. So although the good news is that we have heard of many businesses looking to outsource tasks right now due to the tight labor market, the bad news is that there seems to be an issue for some companies with being able to do the contracted consulting work because projects are getting delayed as customers await delivery of key materials or products. This might not be an issue for IBM currently, but it is a troubling theme we have been hearing more and more about.
We think that there are three points with which to view trading IBM around earnings.
If you already own the shares: This is the boat that we are in across the majority of our personal portfolios. We believe that holding the shares remains prudent, however we also think that it is wise to attempt to create as many income streams from the shares as possible in a bear market, so we recommend selling covered calls on IBM shares sometime Monday before the market closes. We are focused on the July 22, 2022 $145 Calls and will target $2.01/share or higher in order to book a $200+ option premium after fees (or roughly a 1.4% yield from the option premium). With this trade, the stock would have to rise more than 5% for us to "lose" and if we do get called on our shares, we are confident that there are other names we could purchase that would deliver the same yield and possibly better growth prospects.
If you want to buy shares for a long-term investment: While we understand the allure of the dividend and predictable cash flows that the business generates, we think that investors should be very methodical in how and when they enter trades in this market. So if an investor wants to add exposure to IBM, we believe that rather than buying shares outright they should look at utilizing the options market to choose their entry level and potential dividend yield. If it were a trade, we needed to place for one of our portfolios, and we do have a client portfolio or two that this trade may work for, then we would focus on the July 22, 2022 Puts utilizing either the $130 or the $132 strikes. We prefer the $130 contract due to the liquidity but recognize that some readers may see the $1.15/share premium as "not worth the work" because of the 0.88% yield on the premium. Utilizing the $132 puts and the expected $1.52/share premium delivers a 1.15% yield on the premium. We would point out that either trade is acceptable in our book because if exercised, you would own IBM shares at a level that yields at least 5% (assuming no dividend cut).
If you want to trade earnings: We recommend against trading IBM shares specifically for earnings and we do believe that the currency headwinds and supply chain issues might impact the business faster than some expect. If one was to play this name for earnings, we would look to buy the July 22, 2022 $145 Calls below $2/share during Monday's session while also buying the July 22, 2022 $135 Puts below $2.30/share. Basically, the stock will have to move 7% one way or the other to make money and depending on your ability to exit the losing side of the trade it could be less.
In a bear market, any time you can find a way to exit a position and get paid to do so, you have to look at that as a win. We believe that managing positions is the best way to manage your overall portfolio in a market such as this because even though you run the risk of the tail wagging the dog, you should have another opportunity (and usually in a short period of time) to re-enter the trade at the same price, or a better price, from where you were forced to exit. The one item that might impact how readers approach IBM in the current market and how they use the options market to move in and out of positions is the company's dividend. There is probably less than a month before the stock goes ex-dividend, so utilizing the current week's contracts makes a lot of sense because if they are exercised on you, then you can utilize IBM's weekly options contracts moving forward in order to reestablish the position, if desired. That strategy would supply you two weeks to try and reenter the stock.
IBM (NYSE:IBM) reported results on July 18th. Non-GAAP beat by $0.02 with EPS of $2.31, which was reasonable. Revenue was about $15.5 billion, up over 9% YoY, which was also a beat. Cash was also up to just under $8 billion, and total debt (including financing debt) was down $1.4 billion.
Looking forward, there's potentially more good news. Revenue is expected to be up mid-single digits, perhaps at the high end in the 7-9% range. That includes potential currency headwinds, which are estimated to be about negative six points. Lastly, FCF is expected to be about $10 billion.
On the whole, this doesn't look so bad. In fact, long-term investors are probably happy, or at least happy enough. But, there is plenty of darkness, and IBM isn't a wonderful company. At best, it's a hold.
Ironically, the strong U.S. dollar is hurting IBM. Here's what I mean:
IBM makes a little over half of its total revenue outside of the U.S., with around 30% in Europe.
IBM CFO Jim Kavanaugh said in the company's Q2 conference call that the rate at which the U.S. dollar has strengthened is "unprecedented." He noted that over half of the currencies that IBM hedges against have dropped by double digits compared to the U.S. dollar so far this year.
So, while the $10 billion in FCF sounds good, it's down 4-5% from previous guidance of $10.5 billion. That roughly lines up with the six point hit from currency headwinds. Hedging doesn't seem to be working well enough.
Now, we have another problem, and it's called Russia. Like many other companies, the extraction is incredible:
IBM has suspended business in Russia, including engagement with Russian clients, business partners, suppliers, vendors, resellers, developers and OEMs and is conducting an orderly wind-down of all business there. IBM is closely monitoring the war in Ukraine and has taken action to protect client and internal operations and to continue delivery of products and services to customers worldwide.
Interestingly, IBM didn't say "Russia" even once in the Q2 2022 press release. In some ways, that's odd, but in other ways, it's not big news at all. After all, Russia accounting for roughly 0.5% of IBM's total revenue in 2021. My rough math says that $28-30 million so it's kind of a footnote.
Adding it all up, the biggest issue appears to be the strong dollar. I've seen very little about the impact of inflation, in terms of inputs, such as labor and materials. Instead, it's all about the currency itself. Of course, things could change rapidly and we'll continue to watch.
I'm not a huge fan of momentum since it's generally used for short-term trading, and options activity. However, I do pay attention when there's a vertical fall to the bottom of the well - plop!
We're looking straight down right now:
10D = (6%)
50D = (6%)
100D = (3%)
Of course, the numbers aren't huge, but the price is directly down, ripping through all moving averages. That said, there's not a death cross here because the 10-day, 50-day and 100-day are all above the 200-day SMA.
So, we'll be watching this as well. But, at least on the surface, there's been a warning shot fired. Sentiment appears to be turning negative here.
Here's the good news in one simple chart:
In this environment, a yield of 5.2% is certainly appealing. And, for long-time investors, it's nice to get paid to hold. In general, for years and years, that dividend has been creeping upwards.
But, is this from constant "sugar" injections? Consider IBM's buybacks.
Although the buybacks have declined significantly, billions and billions were burned to juice EPS but also keep the dividends flowing. By reducing the shares, IBM was able to maintain the growth in dividends.
Of course, the debt picture is cloudy due to Kyndryl (KD) and also financing debt. But, what matters is that in general, IBM has piled on debt. Pushing out KD helped to manage that debt a bit. What matters here is simple. IBM kept the dividend high, and growing, via buybacks and debt. Stated another way, management employed financial engineering.
But wait, there's more.
Basically, what we're seeing is a relentlessly growing payout ratio. IBM continues to grow the dividend, and maintain its impressive growth streak, but the cost is tremendous. Here's another view of the problem:
Like most of my analysis, I'm not looking for perfection. That is, the differences between YCharts and FASTgraphs don't both me. We're looking for converging evidence. Every tool calculates things a bit differently, in my experience. What matters is the extremely obvious trend. Bottom line: IBM has gone from being a conservative dividend machine to a stretched rubber band. Who knows if it'll snap. There's tension, even stress.
Roughly speaking, IBM seems to be navigating the current environment fairly well. The business is facing macro problems, especially currency headwinds, but it's certainly more focused now. With KD in the rearview mirror IBM is starting to get more serious about core competencies, including the hybrid cloud and artificial intelligence. Put another way, IBM isn't going away.
On the other hand, the company seems to still be stuck in the past. This isn't a nimble company. It's like an old "smokestack" business but in IT instead of industrial production. It's also tried financially engineer its way to success. This has been unsuccessful in my opinion.
On the surface, one bright spot has been the dividend. The yield is high, and IBM is a dividend champion. But, they've loaded up on debt over the years, and the payout ratio has been ugly. Frankly, I see risk in the dividend. At a minimum, I don't see much growth in the dividend. For many investors, that's perfectly acceptable. I understand, but then it makes IBM something of a bond proxy. That's not what I find acceptable, but I see why others want it that way.
Adding it all up, I see IBM as a hold. It's fine for dividend investors and income investors, I suppose. But, it's very much a "has been" in terms of high growth, even with A.I. and the cloud. Also, in full disclosure, I sold out of my last IBM shares back in early 2022. I'm not short, but I'm definitely not buying.
(Reuters) - A federal judge on Thursday rejected former IBM Corp employees' claims that agreements they signed to arbitrate employment-related disputes are invalid, dealing another blow to workers seeking to join an age discrimination lawsuit against the company.
U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman in Manhattan said the fact that the agreements barred the workers from joining a proposed class action lawsuit against IBM did not strip them of any legal rights, and so the agreements were enforceable.
The 26 people who challenged the agreements claim IBM forced them out of their jobs in order to replace them with younger workers and compete with tech companies with younger workforces. All but two of them brought age bias claims against IBM in arbitration that were dismissed as untimely.
The plaintiffs sued last year to invalidate the agreements after a different Manhattan federal judge blocked them from joining a separate proposed class action filed in 2018 making the same claims against IBM because they had signed arbitration agreements.
New York-based IBM, which has denied engaging in discrimination, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. IBM has maintained that older workers were fired or left the company for various reasons and not because of discrimination.
Shannon Liss-Riordan of Lichten & Liss-Riordan, who represents the plaintiffs, was not immediately available to comment.
The 2018 lawsuit, which is pending, has triggered protracted litigation over which former IBM employees can become class members. U.S. District Judge Valerie Caproni, who is overseeing that case, has limited the ability of former IBM workers who did not file charges with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to "piggyback" on the complaints of those who did. The federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act requires workers to file complaints with the EEOC before suing.
The workers who challenged their arbitration agreements argued before Furman that the pacts were invalid because they interfered with their ability to exercise their legal right to join the class action.
But the judge on Thursday said that piggybacking is not a substantive right created by the ADEA but rather a process created by courts to manage class-action discrimination cases. As a result, the agreements do not require workers to waive any rights, he said.
The case is In re IBM arbitration agreement litigation, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, No. 21-CV-6296. The class action is Rusis v. IBM Corp, in the same court, No. 1:18-cv-08434.
For the plaintiffs: Shannon Liss-Riordan of Lichten & Liss-Riordan
For IBM: Matthew Lampe of Jones Day
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
Exclusive IBM's board of directors has started an investigation into claims that its sales numbers were manipulated, leading to executives securing big bonuses. If the board fails to take any action, it may face a lawsuit to claw back millions of dollars from top staff.
In late March, just days before IBM was sued for securities fraud, the IT giant's board received a demand letter from attorneys representing shareholders.
The letter, according to sources familiar with the matter, asked the board to investigate allegations that later surfaced in the securities lawsuit: that the company, under former CEO Ginny Rometty and current CEO Arvind Krishna, deceived shareholders by unlawfully manipulating mainframe revenues in a way that misled investors and inflated executive bonuses.
Our sources tell us that if the IBM board fails to deal with the allegations, a derivatives lawsuit is expected to follow in which the plaintiffs will try to claw back millions of dollars worth of bonus payments made to executives.
A shareholder derivatives lawsuit is brought by shareholders on behalf of a corporation. It is filed against corporate leaders – company board members, officers, or others – alleged to have neglected their fiduciary duty.
We're told IBM's board has engaged a law firm to investigate the fraud allegations. If the board takes no action to address the supposed fraud, the plaintiffs should then be able file a derivatives claim in the company's name.
Assuming the court finds sufficient merit in the plaintiffs' claim to allow a derivatives case, and if the plaintiffs prevail, most of any damage award would belong to the company – which would benefit shareholders, but would not go to them directly.
A legal scholar who spoke with The Register on background for lack of familiarity with this specific case said it's unusual for shareholders to present the board with a demand letter because unless you can show the board is conflicted or acting in self-interest, shareholders generally aren't allowed to initiate a derivatives case.
IBM did not respond to two requests to confirm or deny the existence of the demand letter.
Buried on page 38 of a 10-Q filing with the SEC last week, however, Big Blue disclosed it had received and responded to such a missive.
"On March 25, 2022, the Board of Directors received a shareholder demand letter making similar allegations [to the securities class-action lawsuit] and demanding that the company's Board of Directors take action to assert the company's rights," IBM noted in the submission, a detail that so far has gone unreported.
"A special committee of independent directors has been formed to investigate the issues raised in the letter."
The securities fraud claim [PDF] against IBM was filed on April 5 in New York, on behalf of the June E. Adams Irrevocable Trust. It names as defendants not only IBM, but current and former corporate leaders including Rometty, former CFO Martin J. Schroeter (now CEO of IBM spin-off Kyndryl), current CFO James J. Kavanaugh, and current CEO Arvind Krishna.
Since the lawsuit was initially filed by law firm Milberg Coleman Bryson Phillips Grossman, LLC, it has been joined by at least five other law firms representing other IBM shareholders. In June, the court recognized Iron Workers Local 580 Joint Funds as the lead plaintiff.
The complaint contends that IBM between April 4, 2017 and October 20, 2021 "improperly and in violation of Generally Accepted Accounting Principles ('GAAP') embarked on a fraudulent scheme to shift billions of dollars in revenues from its mainframe line of business to its Strategic Imperatives and CAMSS line of business."
... a fraudulent scheme to shift billions of dollars in revenues from its mainframe line of business to its Strategic Imperatives and CAMSS line of business
CAMSS is an abbreviation for Cloud, Analytics, Mobile, Security and Systems, business segments that were designated as strategic imperatives by IBM's leadership. The complaint argues that IBM instituted a bonus scheme that rewarded execs and encouraged IBM salespeople for the sale of CAMSS products. As a result, revenue arising from mainframe sales got reclassified as CAMSS sales, which boosted bonuses even as it misled investors – by giving shareholders an untrue picture of the IT giant's sales performance – it is claimed.
The Register spoke with two former IBM sales employees who were unaffiliated with the litigation and had between them more than forty years of experience with Big Blue. They described manipulative sales reporting – not all of which is necessarily unlawful – as a common practice, not only at IBM but at other large enterprise software firms.
"Think of it as, like, the worst kept secret," said one, who described one way IBM salespeople adjust sales figures to their own advantage. "It all starts with the CRM system, the customer relationship management system. IBM uses SugarCRM, but they make it very easy when you get a deal.
"You go through a bunch of checkboxes and you check off which categories pertain to this deal and how much of it is services, how much of it is hardware, how much in particular is cloud-based or analytics. And this is the big thing with the CAMSS, right? To check off all the boxes pertaining to CAMSS and then you allocate a percent to that."
That is to say, you only have to assign a small part of the sales deal to CAMSS to record it as a CAMSS win.
The other described various dubious directives that salespeople had to comply with, which steered salespeople toward meeting management goals and discouraged rocking the boat.
For example, this individual described IBM Z Linux part number manipulation. "A very common practice was to create a duplicate part number," this former IBMer explained. "It's a unique part number but there's no difference in product or delivery."
That makes no difference to the customer, we were told, but the way products got categorized affected sales staff and executive compensation.
The issue before the court in New York is whether flexible accounting of this sort, to the extent it can be documented, violated the law or IBM misled investors. If IBM's board finds no corrective actions are necessary, a successful derivatives complaint could return millions paid in unwarranted executive bonuses to company coffers. ®
Editor's note: This article was updated to clarify that the demand letter was sent in late March, just before the securities lawsuit was filed in April, as confirmed by the 10-Q filing.
Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, Persefoni and IBM Japan have established a business and service provision agreement to accelerate efforts to achieve Net-Zero Emissions
TOKYO, Aug. 10, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (“SMBC”, President and CEO: Makoto Takashima), Persefoni AI, Inc. (“Persefoni”, CEO: Kentaro Kawamori), and IBM Japan, Ltd. (“IBM Japan”, GM and President: Akio Yamaguchi, headquartered in Tokyo, Japan) announced today that they have entered into a strategic collaboration that will provide Persefoni’s leading Climate Management and Accounting Platform, IBM Japan’s deep systems integration experience, and SMBC’s unprecedented leadership position to high profile companies throughout Japan. This collaboration enables customers to analyze and support their global carbon footprint management. In addition to this collaboration, SMBC is also announcing that it is the first multinational financial institution in Japan to sign a multi-year contract with Persefoni to use the Persefoni CMAP for SMBC’s own operations.
The Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Information Disclosure (TCFD), which provides the international climate change disclosure framework, represents guidelines which requires for companies to disclose their action plan towards decarbonization. Since April, some Tokyo Stock Exchange listed companies have been required to disclose information substantially in line with the TCFD. On the other hand, the TCFD requires the calculation of direct GHG emissions from the combustion of fuel by the business itself as defined in Scope 1, indirect emissions from the use of energy supplied by other companies as defined in Scope 2 and the fifteen upstream and downstream supply chain categories defined as Scope 3 requires a large amount of data collection, sophisticated calculations and formulas. For this reason, there is a growing need for a digitally enabled service to meet regulatory and investor compliance requirements.
2. Strengths in service offerings
Persefoni provides a Climate Management and Accounting Platform (CMAP) which incorporates emission factors globally available and specific to each region and can calculate Scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions in accordance with the GHG Protocol and the Partnership for Carbon Accounting and Financials (PCAF). The CMAP has strengths in the calculation, especially for Category 11 (emissions from the use of sold products and services) and Category 15 (emissions from operation of investments and loans) of Scope 3. The CMAP also includes the Climate Trajectory Modeling module that provides SBT-compliant target-setting management and helps customers create digital models to assist in calculating net-zero plans. Through the agreement, the CMAP will be delivered to the Japanese marketplace with speed, where the demand for an automated carbon accounting solution is rapidly increasing.
IBM provides a tool, developed by data scientists through application of the IBM Garage methodology, to support the automatization of the data input process into Persefoni and the emission calculation output and reporting processes. This tool is developed on an integrated one-stop data application infrastructure that supports the large amount of data gathering and processing required for emissions calculation, which usually require a large amount of resources from the companies.
Since the spring of 2022, SMBC and IBM Japan have been providing climate change risk and opportunity analysis services to support corporate climate change disclosure while collaborating with The Climate Service, Inc. Through the strategic collaboration with Persefoni, SMBC and IBM Japan will be able to deliver a comprehensive decarbonization solution which includes from carbon footprint management to climate change risk and opportunity analysis for customers
3. Introduction of Persefoni platform in SMBC
Critical to SMBC’s selection of Persefoni’s CMAP, the Persefoni platform enables the emission management in Japan domestically as well as globally. SMBC is confident that the Persefoni platform is the best software to tackle the challenges about emission management, such as significantly complicated calculation, various emission factors, and comprehensive emission control on a global basis that multinational companies like SMBC are facing. SMBC’s “SMBC Group GREEN Innovator” program will facilitate to support customers in resolving management issues related to various sustainability initiatives and SMBC will continue to contribute to the realization of sustainability in order to realize a decarbonized society.
Persefoni’s Climate Management & Accounting Platform (CMAP) provides businesses, financial institutions, and governmental agencies the software fabric for managing their organization’s climate related data and performance with the same level of confidence as their financial reporting systems. The company’s software solutions enable users to calculate their carbon footprint, perform climate trajectory modeling aligned to temperature rise scenarios set forth by the Paris agreement, and benchmark their impact by region, sector, or peer groups.
For more information about Persefoni, please visit https://persefoni.com/.
About IBM Japan
IBM Japan is the Japanese entity of IBM Corporation, which is operating in more than 175 countries around the world. It supports clients’ business transformation and digital transformation through a full range of services, from basic research and business consulting to IT system development and maintenance. For more information, visit https://www.ibm.com/jp-ja.
For more information, please visit https://www.ibm.com/jp-ja.
IBM, the IBM logo, and ibm.com are trademarks or registered trademarks of International Business Machines Corporation, registered in many jurisdictions worldwide. Other product and service names might be trademarks of IBM or other companies. A current list of IBM trademarks is available on the web at “Copyright and trademark information” at http://www.ibm.com/legal/copytrade.shtml (US).
SMBC Group, including SMBC, is committed to achieving net-zero GHG by SMBC Group’s own GHG emissions by 2030, also entire investment and loan portfolio by 2050, SMBC has strengths in one of the largest operating bases in Japan, speed of strategy implementation, and the ability to provide financial services through a leading group company. Using those strengths, we diligently support our customer’s challenges towards decarbonization.
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NetworkNewsWire Editorial Coverage
NEW YORK, Aug. 10, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- Quantum computing has moved from research to reality, as companies increasingly turn to the power of quantum mechanical effects to solve complex computational problems and maximize efficiencies throughout their businesses. When considering the quantum computing landscape, it's important to note that not all quantum computing technologies are the same and approaches vary. While some companies are focused on building quantum systems that won't be available for many years to come, others are offering real, practical quantum computing applications available today to help tackle a myriad of complex business challenges. Hundreds of early quantum applications have already been built to address complexities in resource scheduling, mobility, logistics, drug discovery, portfolio optimization, and manufacturing processes. Despite a growing marketplace of quantum computing players, only a handful are currently commercially viable. Industry pioneer D-Wave Quantum Inc. (NYSE: QBTS) (Profile) is the first company with real-world commercial annealing quantum computing services and the only company building both annealing and gate-based quantum computing products. D-Wave, which just became public via a SPAC merger, is at the vanguard of the quantum sea change in computing alongside other computer juggernauts such as Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ: MSFT), Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOGL), International Business Machines Corporation (NYSE: IBM) and Honeywell International Inc. (NASDAQ: HON).
Click here to view the custom infographic of the D-WAVE editorial.
D-Wave Delivers Solutions Companies Need
Quantum computing has been around in theory and development for decades, but only recently has it made substantive progress, building momentum to go mainstream and overcome shortcomings of traditional computers related to power and processing speed. Boston Consulting Group (BCG) sees the potential for quantum computing to significantly impact multiple industries, creating a total addressable market (TAM) between $450 billion and $850 billion over the next 15 to 30 years in the process. BCG estimates $5 to $10 billion of the anticipated TAM growth will come in the next three to five years, with 20% of the overall TAM to apply to quantum hardware, software and service providers like D-Wave; the rest is expected to be captured by commercially developed quantum applications.
451 Research, part of S&P Global Market Intelligence, echoed the bullish sentiment. In its study of Fortune 1000 companies in North America and Europe, the firm found that 39% of respondents were experimenting with quantum computing today and 81% have a use case in mind to run in the next three years. Why? Because nearly all (97%) of the enterprises rate solving complex problems as high importance or business critical.
As the world's only annealing quantum computing company, and with annealing quantum computing best suited for optimization problems, D-Wave (NYSE: QBTS) is uniquely positioned to capture a significant portion of the TAM for combinatorial optimization problems.
In a world where 39% of enterprises have abandoned complex problems because of time and difficulty to solve limitations, D-Wave has proven commercial viability and market leadership. D-Wave is the first company to bring to market a real-time, cloud-based annealing quantum computer solution. The company is one of the newest public quantum computing companies and members of the NYSE, but it has a long history of more than two decades of technology innovation unlocking the power of quantum computing, commercial successes (including building the first commercial quantum computer that is now on its fifth generation) and hundreds of use cases built by customers, including more than two dozen of the Forbes Global 2000.
Annealing vs. Gate-Based
It's important to have a general understanding of the state of quantum computing and why D-Wave is differentiated in the space.
In quantum computing, the two common approaches are: 1) Annealing, those inspired from neural net-based architectures and used today for optimization problems; 2) Gate-based, those inspired by the way traditional silicon architectures constructed for when error-corrected use cases are required, as in materials science and pharmaceutical research. D-Wave is building both types of quantum computers, and its cross-platform approach is expected to bring both annealing and gate-based technologies to enterprises' toughest problems. As an example, in the life sciences industry, quantum computing broadly unlocks applications including patient trials (annealing), drug toxicity (annealing + gate-model), and designer drug discovery (gate-model). According to the CEO of D-Wave, Alan Baratz, gate-based systems are several years away.
D-Wave is the only annealing quantum computing company in the world, says Baratz. When the company set out to build its first quantum computer in 2010, management picked annealing over gate-based for a number of reasons, including a faster path to commercialization and business value for customers. Annealing is best suited for solving optimization problems and has shown this this in a demo built for the Department of Homeland Security. D-Wave demonstrated how it could use quantum-hybrid approaches to determine the most efficient use of resources at 1,000-plus hospitals during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Sounds simple, but all the possible variations of facilities, locations, beds, ventilators and more are mind boggling, and the problem becomes far too complex for traditional computers.
The ability to input vast amounts of data and turn out the most efficient course of action is invaluable for countless applications, such as employee scheduling, autonomous vehicle routing, peptide design, fraud detection, optimizing clinical trials and much more.
Relentless Product Progression
D-Wave has established a history of relentless product delivery, developing the D-Wave One annealing computer in 2011 and bringing to market five generations of quantum computers, now commercially branded as Advantage(TM) quantum systems, and accessible through D-Wave's real-time quantum cloud service, Leap(TM). In June 2022, D-Wave unveiled an experimental prototype of the sixth-generation annealing quantum computer, called Advantage2(TM), also available through Leap. Advantage2 is expected to feature a 7,000 functioning quantum bits, or qubits.
In addition to multiple generations of quantum computers and a real-time quantum cloud service, D-Wave's product portfolio includes Ocean, a toolbox of open-source developer products, and Launch, its professional services/customer onboarding service. The company's intellectual property is protected by a robust patent estate of 200+ patents applicable to both annealing and gate-based quantum computing.
With a legacy of building and delivering commercial annealing products for more than a decade, D-Wave is an established player in the sector. The company's products and services have attracted more than two dozen Forbes Global 2000 companies, which use Leap and Advantage to build custom optimization solutions across diverse areas such as resource scheduling, mobility, logistics, drug discovery, portfolio optimization, manufacturing processes and more. A few well-known customers include Deloitte, Volkswagen, Save-on-Foods, DENSO, BBVA, NEC and Lockheed Martin. In 2021, 68% of D-Wave's Quantum Computing as a Service (QCaaS) revenue came from commercial customers.
Quantum as a Strategic Imperative
A accurate 451 Research report found that 39% of Fortune 1000 enterprises are experimenting with quantum computing today, while 78% see quantum computing having a significant impact on creating a new product. As enterprises look to incorporate quantum computing into their operations, they are expected to consider D-Wave and its competitors to optimize the process from development to distribution.
Based on their public statements:
Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ: MSFT) is building Azure Quantum, which takes a comprehensive approach to all layers of the computing stack. Microsoft currently has all the building blocks of a topological qubit, a new and unique qubit that will be faster, smaller and more reliable than other qubits. In time, topological qubits are expected to power Microsoft's fully scalable, highly secure, next-generation quantum computer.
Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOGL) recently spun off its quantum technology group Sandbox AQ, an enterprise SaaS company delivering solutions at the nexus of quantum tech and AI. The Google parent is provider of tools dedicated to quantum computing, including Cirq, an open-source framework for programming quantum computers.
International Business Machines Corporation (NYSE: IBM) has released its quantum computing roadmap, including plans for four new quantum processors. In its initiatives, IBM has amassed a community of clients and partners comprised of Fortune 500 companies, academic institutions, national labs and startups, along with what it says are 20-plus of the most powerful gate-based quantum systems in the world.
Honeywell International Inc. (NASDAQ: HON) has spent more than a decade working on quantum computing to shape the adoption and integration of quantum information systems into the industries it serves. In November 2021, Honeywell's Quantum Solutions and Cambridge Quantum combined to form Quantinuum, a company it touts as "the world's largest integrated quantum computing company."
There's consensus that quantum computing has the potential to open new vistas, enabling us to do things we can't even imagine today. With the tailwinds building behind quantum computing, there is room for multiple players to emerge, but that by no means implies that all companies are created equal. One thing that is certain is that there is no shortfall of problems that quantum computing can solve and benefit business and society.
For more information about D-Wave, please visit D-Wave Quantum Inc.
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Big Blue is a nickname used since the 1980s for the International Business Machines Corporation (IBM). The moniker may have arisen from the blue tint of its early computer displays, or from the deep blue color of its corporate logo.
Big Blue arose in the early 1980s in the popular and financial press as a nickname for IBM. The name has unclear specific origins, but is generally assumed to refer to the blue tint of the cases of its computers.
The nickname was embraced by IBM, which has been content with leaving its origins in obscurity and has named many of its projects in homage of the nickname. For example, Deep Blue, IBM’s chess-playing computer, challenged and ultimately defeated grandmaster Garry Kasparov in a controversial 1997 tournament.
The first known print reference to the Big Blue nickname appeared in the June 8, 1981, edition of Businessweek magazine, and is attributed to an anonymous IBM enthusiast.
“No company in the computer business inspires the loyalty that IBM does, and the company has accomplished this with its almost legendary customer service and support … As a result, it is not uncommon for customers to refuse to buy equipment not made by IBM, even though it is often cheaper. ‘I don't want to be saying I should have stuck with the “Big Blue,”’ says one IBM loyalist. ‘The nickname comes from the pervasiveness of IBM's blue computers.’”
Other speculators have also associated the Big Blue nickname with the company’s logo and its one-time dress code, as well as IBM’s historical association with blue-chip stocks.
IBM began in 1911 as the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company (CTR) in Endicott, NY. CTR was a holding company created by Charles R. Flint that amalgamated three companies that together produced scales, punch-card data processors, employee time clocks, and meat slicers. In 1924, CTR was renamed International Business Machines.
In the following century, IBM would go on to become one of the world’s top technological leaders, developing, inventing, and building hundreds of hardware and software information technologies. IBM is responsible for many inventions that quickly became commonplace, including the UPC barcode, the magnetic stripe card, the personal computer, the floppy disk, the hard disk drive, and the ATM.
IBM technologies were crucial to the implementation of U.S. government initiatives such as the launch of the Social Security Act in 1935 and many NASA missions, from the 1963 Mercury flight to the 1969 moon landing and beyond.
IBM holds the most U.S. patents of any business and, to date, IBM employees have been awarded many notable titles, including five Nobel Prizes and six Turing Awards.
One of the first multinational conglomerates to emerge in U.S. history, IBM maintains a multinational presence, operating in 175 countries worldwide and employing some 350,000 employees globally.
IBM has underperformed the broader S&P 500 index and Nasdaq-100 index. Significant divergence began in 1985 when the Nasdaq-100 and S&P 500 moved higher while IBM was mostly flat or lower until 1997. Since then it has continued to lose ground, especially when compared to the Nasdaq-100 index.
The underperformance in the stock price between 1985 and 2019 is underscored by the firm's financial performance. Between 2005 and 2012, net income generally rose, but at less than 12% per year on average. Between 2012 and 2017, net income fell by 65% over the time period, before recovering in 2018 and 2019. In 2019, though, net income was still about 43% lower than it was in 2012.
Comparably's Best Leadership Team Award demonstrates WorkForce Software's leadership team's commitment to creating the best employee experience and supporting global team members on their career journeys
LIVONIA, Mich., Aug. 9, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, the first global provider of integrated employee experience and workforce management solutions, WorkForce Software, is announcing that it has been recognized by Comparably, a leading workplace culture and corporate brand reputation platform, for having the Best Leadership Team. The award – determined by anonymous employee sentiment rankings over the past 12 months – places WorkForce Software's leadership team among the top in the U.S. for large companies (more than 500 employees). This is the second award WorkForce Software has won from Comparably in 2022.
Comparably's 5th Annual list of Best Leadership Teams is derived from thousands of anonymous employee ratings on their executive leadership teams and direct managers through Comparably.com over a 12-month period. In addition to WorkForce Software ranking on the list of highest-rated companies for having the best leadership team, the list also includes market leaders such as Amazon, Google, Nextdoor, Cisco, SAP, Deloitte, Microsoft and more.
"We are truly honored to be named one of the Best Leadership Teams, as recognized by our incredibly talented employees around the world," said Mike Morini, CEO of WorkForce Software. "I am extremely proud of our leadership team and their commitment to create an environment built on transparency, communication, empathy and the collective success of every team member. At WorkForce Software, we've worked hard to demonstrate through action that we value our team. We encourage everyone to bring their unique experiences, ideas and skillsets to our organization, and we are stronger and more successful because of it."
WorkForce Software was also named the 2022 Comparably award winner for having the Best Product & Design Departments, the 2021 recipient of Comparably's Best Company Culture and Best Company Compensation awards and the 2020 recipient of Comparably's Top Companies for Work-Life Balance. This commitment to deliver exceptional employee experiences continues into 2022, with hundreds of employees anonymously delivering High Score about their work experiences. WorkForce Software's managers, executive team and the CEO, Mike Morini, each earned A+ rankings from the 2022 Comparably survey. The company continues to earn "A" marks for having the best Overall Culture and garners "A+" rankings in the top 5% of 14,975 similar sized companies in the areas of Team Sentiment, Manager Ratings, CEO Rankings, Executive Team and Leadership Scores.
Comprehensive company results can be found on the Comparably website, which lists data and reviews for each award category. Verbatim anonymous quotes from WorkForce Software employees throughout the company are available from Comparably, such as these notable quotes highlighting sentiment about the leadership:
To learn more about WorkForce Software, see current global job openings, and join this leading, modern workforce management technology company, visit https://www.workforcesoftware.com/careers/.
About WorkForce Software
WorkForce Software is the first global provider of workforce management solutions with integrated employee experience capabilities. The company's WorkForce Suite adapts to each organization's needs—no matter how unique their pay rules, labor regulations, and schedules—while delivering a breakthrough employee experience at the time and place work happens. Enterprise-grade and future-ready, WorkForce Software is helping some of the world's most innovative organizations optimize their workforce, protect against compliance risks, and increase employee engagement to unlock new potential for resiliency and optimal performance. When your employees include deskless or hourly workers, unionized, full-time, part-time, or seasonal, WorkForce Software makes managing your global workforce easy, less costly, and more rewarding for everyone. For more information, please visit www.workforcesoftware.com.
If there is any word to best describe the first few years of the decade, it is chaotic. And chaos is where cybercriminals flourish. While many fleets and other transportation industry organizations and businesses are more secure than last decade, there are more threats to the industry, which could impact fleets, their customers, and supply chains.
In the past year, the transportation industry was among the top 10 most targeted sectors by cybercriminals, according to a 2022 IBM Security study. While transportation was the seventh-most cyberattack-targeted industry, industries relying on trucking and other transportation services, such as manufacturing (No. 1), energy (No. 4), and retail/wholesale (No. 5), were victims of ransomware and business email compromise (BEC) attacks, according to the study.
See also: Still waiting on blockchain to catch up with the hype
These attacks, particularly against manufacturing, which accounted for nearly a quarter of all cyberattacks worldwide in 2021, added to the supply chain pressures created during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Cybercriminals usually chase the money. Now with ransomware, they are chasing leverage," said Charles Henderson, head of IBM X-Force. "Businesses should recognize that vulnerabilities are holding them in a deadlock—as ransomware actors use that to their advantage. This is a non-binary challenge. The attack surface is only growing larger, so instead of operating under the assumption that every vulnerability in their environment has been patched, businesses should operate under an assumption of compromise and enhance their vulnerability management with a zero trust strategy."
Joe Russo, VP of IT and Security at Isaac Instruments, a trucking technology company, said more companies are shifting toward “zero-trust.” It’s a new security approach that assumes a breach has already happened—so it increases the difficulty for an attacker to move through a company’s network.
“Zero trust is something that can help all fleets,” Russo told FleetOwner. Fundamentally, zero trust is understanding where critical data resides and who has access to it. It’s one of the bases for blockchain. Then, he explained, fleets should create robust verification measures throughout a network to ensure only the right people are accessing that crucial data in the right way.
IBM’s study found that 4% of all attacks were aimed at the transportation industry, which made it the seventh-most targeted group in 2021. Transportation was No. 9 in 2020. IBM found that as international borders and transportation networks reopened in 2021, it renewed cybercriminal interest in transportation. While transportation ranked lower overall in 2020, it saw more cyberattacks.
The transportation industry had already started taking cyber issues more seriously last year, according to Ben Barnes, chief information security officer and VP of IT services for transportation solutions provider McLeod Software.
See also: How to reduce the risk of a data breach
“I think we, as an industry, have come a long way in our cybersecurity,” he told FleetOwner. “A lack of cyber adoption was our big hurdle for a long time. I don’t think we suffer that anymore.”
While the transportation industry was once the “low-hanging fruit” for cybercriminals, that is no longer the case, Barnes said. “I think a lot of the attacks in the transportation industry now are very targeted. It’s a high-value market now,” he explained. “High value doesn’t mean profitable, but there’s a lot of revenue; there’s a lot of dollars in transportation that are moving. And that makes us very likable for a thief.”
Malicious insiders—those who intentionally abuse legitimate credentials to steal information—was the top attack type against transportation organizations in 2021, according to the IBM study. These attacks made up 29% of those in the industry. Ransomware, remote access trojans (RATs), data theft, credential harvesting, and server access were also aimed at transportation organizations.
Half of the incidents IBM X-Force remediated at transportation companies originated with phishing emails, followed by stolen credentials (33%), and vulnerability exploitation (17%).
Russo noted that during the pandemic, as more companies were dealing with remote workers and more entry points for attacks, cybersecurity technologies improved. “If there’s a ransomware attack, it can be isolated to just that device so it doesn’t spread,” he explained. “A lot more proactive and containment is happening than in the past.”
While transportation is no longer one of the top five targets for cybercriminals, it’s no reason for fleets and similar businesses to rest, Russo said.
“With the Russian war in Ukraine, hackers are going after high-value targets, such as financial systems and health care,” Russo explained. “They haven’t gone down the list yet and hit transportation. But everyone must be vigilant—it could hit anytime.”
See also: Are cybercriminals waiting for an opportune time to attack U.S. trucks?
When the fragility of U.S. supply chains was exposed during the COVID pandemic, cybercriminals were also shown how attacks could affect specific transportation organizations and businesses such as fleets, according to John Sheehy, SVP of research and strategy for IOActive.
“You might be attacked because of who your client is—or who their client is,” Sheehy told FleetOwner. He explained that a criminal looking to infiltrate a high-value target could use a fleet’s weaker cybersecurity as a way to get into a fleet customer’s network. That’s why he believes sharing information about company security breaches can contribute to the common good.
“Empowering them with the information they need to make decisions to protect themselves and their clients is very helpful,” Sheehy said.
Cyberattacks aren’t going away, McLeod’s Barnes said. And like all business practices, companies need to review and revisit their cybersecurity practices regularly.
“We’re all targets because we’re all part of the transportation sector—but there is strength in collective action,” he said. The transportation industry needs to work together to combat cybercrime. As more companies take steps to protect their IT systems, the transportation sector will become a less attractive target for cybercriminals. If we can raise awareness and take action to defeat cybercrime, the entire industry will benefit.”
It's safe to say that Bank of America (NYSE: BAC), the second-largest bank by assets in the U.S., is a completely different bank than it was after the Great Recession, when shares fell below $4. Toward the end of 2021, Bank of America traded at its highest stock price since 2007, at more than $49 per share, albeit it was a period when most stocks traded at elevated valuations. Let's take a look at where Bank of America could be at the end of 2023, in a little less than a year and a half.