Market Cap: $227.31 billion.
IBM may not be one of tech's sexier stocks, but Big Blue has plenty to offer investors in 2012, as evidenced by its new 52-week high on Monday. Even Warren Buffett is getting in on the action, recently grabbing $10.7 billion worth of the company."If the global or regional economies continue to stagger, I think that investors and institutional investors are going to see a lot of value in steady dividend payers like IBM," explained Pund-IT's King. "When you have got a seasoned investor like Warren Buffett that has traditionally avoided tech, [getting involved], it's an interesting indicator of what may be ahead." The server, software and services giant also hiked its dividend to 75 cents a share from 65 cents earlier this year. This year marks the 16th year in a row that the firm has raised its quarterly dividend. IBM, which recently beefed up its share buyback, has returned over $109 billion to shareholders since 2003 through repurchases and dividends. TheStreet Ratings cites IBM as a buy, pointing to its strength in a number of areas, such as revenue growth, return on equity, stock performance, earnings growth and expanding profit margins. IBM, however, was punished by investors recently when it missed Wall Street's third-quarter revenue estimate, although the tech bellwether is still seen as one of the more dependable tech stocks. The Armonk, N.Y.-based firm may lack the cachet of trendier companies such as Apple (AAPL) and Google (CSCO), although its vast software and services businesses offer consistently stable revenue streams, helping insulate the firm against economic unease. Shrewdly selling off its PC business to Lenovo way back in 2004, IBM has successfully shifted its focus onto high-margin areas, something which rivals such as Hewlett-Pakcard (HPQ) are now attempting to emulate. IBM's software business, for example, continues to enjoy strong growth. The tech bellwether's software revenue grew 13% year over year to $5.8 billion during its recent fiscal third quarter. The company's services division has also been performing well, with revenue growing 8% year over year to reach $10.3 billion. Set against this backdrop, IBM's shares have risen almost 31% this year and incoming CEO Ginni Rometty is expected to continue the good work of her predecessor, Sam Palmisano.
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