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A SPECIAL ANNEX NEWSFLASH
IBM Issues a First Quarter Revenue, Earnings Warning
Big Blue Starting to Unravel
Stock Drops Like a Rock (11%); Joyce’s “Alzheimer’s” Case
Well, now Big Blue has taken a dive - three
months later! Some 11% or
over $10 billion of the IBM stock value was erased this morning after the
company issued a release warning the first quarter revenues and earnings
will come in below expectations.
No surprise there, either.
Wall Street almost always seems to close the barn door after the
horse has gone.
We also said back in January that the drop
in the Big Blue stock would not happen immediately, since Wall Street
analysts seemed to buy the IBM "BS" lock, stock and barrel. Here’s an excerpt:
Joyce pulled the same stunt two years ago, blaming the IBM woes on the Y2K
that time, we called it a “Slam-Dunk
of Bunk,” (Jan 19, 2000). This
afternoon, Joyce has outdone himself.
Make it a “Grand Slam-Dunk of Bunk!”
Yet the analysts bought it. At least that’s the impression
one got by the meek and mild tone of their questions. So don’t look for
a huge stock slide tomorrow, even though a free fall is what Armonk richly
Furthermore, we said back in January that
some of the explanations IBM had given for the disappointing fourth
quarter results were also bunk:
This time, Joyce blamed it on the late timing of some fourth
quarter contract signings. As a result, he said, IBM could not book as
much revenue as it expected in the fourth quarter. Of all the buckets that
he IBM CFO used up painting coats of BS over Armonk’s truckload of
trouble, this was probably the biggest. [...]
Everybody knows that service contracts are annuities; that
revenues are usually earned over a five to 10 year-contract period.
Everybody also knows that it usually takes six to nine months for a
mega-contract to start to produce revenues and profits for a vendor. So
the fourth quarter contract signings ($15 billion, according to IBM) could
not have been reasonably expected to contribute much to the company’s
top and bottom lines until well into 2002.
Which is why we thought
that Joyce’s optimism about the first quarter 2002 results was misplaced
(optimism - because those deals that IBM “missed” in the fourth
quarter would be supposedly signed in the first).
John Joyce, yes the same IBM CFO who uttered the above utter
nonsense back in January, seems to have been stricken by a case "Alzheimer’s"
In this morning’s release, Joyce said,
“the first quarter traditionally is the weakest period of the year for
technology purchases, and many of our customers chose to reduce or defer
capital spending decisions…”
Well, perhaps now the IBM
shareholders who lost $10+ billion this morning understand why we said back
in January that Joyce’s
comments were a “Grand Slam-Dunk of Bunk!”
We also warned at the time
about IBM’s “financial engineering:”
Unless, of course, the Big Blue is into something it is not
supposed to be in - such as “aggressive accounting” - booking revenue
and earnings early (for more on that, check out the “Enronizing
IBM?” part of this report). […]
As for “Enronizing IBM,” we also said
in another report in late January that Lou Gerstner’s exit was “well
timed;” that he was bailing out while the going was still good (see “Gerstner’s
Legacy…”, Jan. 29).
And last month, we showed you just to what an extend “Sir Lou” and had cashed in by selling his IBM shares while talking up the Big Blue stock (Apr. 1):
An Analysis of IBM Insider Stock Trading in 2000-2001
Chairman of "IBM Greed, Inc." Dumped About $238M of Big Blue’s
Stock in Last Two Years While Hyping Up Big Blue’s Bright Future; Other
Top Insiders Followed Suit in 2001 and Cashed In
You could also see in the above report that
Gerstner was not alone, that many other insiders also bailed out last year
while predicting a rosy future for the company. As with Enron,
"watch what they do, not what they say," seems to be an
appropriate adage for Armonk.
On Friday (Apr. 5), we told you about the
SEC chairman’s speech in which he said he wanted to tighten the rules
that govern insiders’ stock option trades (see “SEC
to Tighten Stock Option Rules”, Apr. 5).
Put it all together, and you will see is
that the universe is unfolding as it should; that the noose of truth and
justice is slowly tightening up around the necks of “Sir Lou” and his
enterprising Big Blue “financial engineers.”
It is rather unfortunate that Big Blue starting to unravel on Sam Palmisano’s watch. On the other hand, “Teflon Sam” was in the kitchen when Sir Lou’s broth was being “Enronized.” So if he had a problem with that, Palmisano could have blown a whistle or bailed out. But then, he wouldn't be “Teflon Sam,” would he?
Happy bargain hunting!
P.S. While checking on a Financial Times (FT) of London story about IBM (IBM profit warning dashes tech recovery hopes, Apr. 9), we came across another interesting item in tomorrow's FT edition that may help explain why and how investors get duped by what they perceive to be "independent" Wall Street analysts.
Here's an excerpt from the FT story, "Merrill ordered to overhaul stock rating system," in which the New York state attorney general is quoted as saying that this Wall Street firm displayed "a shocking betrayal of trust:"
The New York state attorney general on Monday sought a court order to force Merrill Lynch to disclose conflicts of interest between its research analysts and investment bankers.
Elliot Spitzer, New York state attorney general, said that the bank's analysts issued biased, misleading stock picks in an attempt to secure lucrative contracts for investment banking services.
"This was a shocking betrayal of trust by one of Wall Street's most trusted names," Mr Spitzer said. "The case must be a catalyst for reform throughout the entire industry."
The move comes despite attempts by investment banks to respond to criticism by imposing restrictions on analysts dealings in the stocks they cover.
The state attorney general released a number of internal e-mails sent by Merrill Lynch staff, which it said raised concerns about conflicts of interest. The e-mails indicate that analysts privately disparaged companies while publicly recommending their stocks. [...]
Merrill had no comment.
Neither do we.
Annex Ed. BTW, the IBM stock set a new 12-month low today ($85.35 at its lowest point of the day). The previous 52-week low was set on Sep. 27, 2001 ($87.49), in the aftermath of the Sep. 11 events. The 12-month high was reached on Jan. 9 ($126.39).
Actually, we first said that nearly three years ago, when Gerstner et. al. at Armonk started zigging with their wallets, while zagging with their mouths. The IBM CEO and his lieutenants demonstrated their greed by selling their stock holdings while urging others (including the IBM Treasury) to buy them (see "Lou's Lair vs. Bill's Loft" - June 1999, and "IBM's Best Years Are 3-4 Decades Behind," July 1999).
[For more details on "financial engineering" -- a new IBM line of business, as we put it back in 1997 -- see "Big Blue Starting to Unravel," (Apr. 8, 2002), “SEC to Tighten Stock Option Rules” (Apr. 5, 2002), "Sir Lou OutLayed Lay!" (Apr. 1, 2002), "IBM Pension Fund Vapors," (Mar. 23, 2002), Is IBM Cheating on Taxes, Annex Bulletin 99-17 (May 1999), Fortune on IBM (June 15, 2000), Annex Bulletin 98-14 ("Wag the Big Blue Dog"), Armonk's Fudge Factory (Apr. 9, 1999), Where Armonk Meets Wall Street, Greed Breeds Incest (November 1998), Stock Buybacks Questioned: Is IBM Mortgaging Its Future Again?, 97-18 (4/29/97), "Some Insiders Cashed In On IBM Stock's Rise, Buybacks" 97-22, 7/27/97, Djurdjevic’s Forbes column, "Is Big Blue Back?," 6/10/97; “Executive Suite: How Sweet!,” (July 1997), "Gerstner: Best Years Are Behind", Aug. 10, 1999), "IBM's Best Years Are 3-4 Decades Behind Us" (July 1999), "Lou's Lair vs. Bill's Loft" (June 1999), "Corporate Cabbage Patch Dolls," 98-39, 10/31/98; Djurdjevic’s Chronicles magazine October 1998 column, "Wall Street Boom; Main Street Doom" etc.].
Volume XVIII, Annex Newsflash No.
Editor: Bob Djurdjevic
P.O. Box 97100, Phoenix, Arizona
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