Since November 2008 the shares have more than doubled in value and the dividend has been increasing at regular intervals, standing now at 85 cents per share, a yield of 1.66%. IBM can well afford the $1 billion quarterly payout -- profits range from $3 billion to $5 billion each quarter.
Despite this, all is not well at Big Blue, at least according to analysts.
A quick calculation shows IBM's market cap is only 2.21 times its annual sales. The figure for Apple (AAPL) is 2.73, for Microsoft (MSFT) 3.12 and for Google (GOOG) 4.95. The only large tech company doing worse by this measure is Intel (INTC), at 1.96.IBM is literally as cheap as chips. Why? Stagnation on the top line is usually blamed. IBM sales today are no higher than in 2008. Its gains are explained entirely by rigid cost-cutting, which has slowly increased profit margins, and has gotten operating margins to near 25%, close to those of Apple and Google. Moreover, IBM makes few waves. Check the news headlines around the company and you will find very little that's interesting. It's all new customers, new research results, new capabilities and new donations of gear. Services chief Michael Daniels recently sold a little over 10,000 shares, but he was in the process of retiring. On Wall Street $2 million is just a gold watch. IBM has a road map with $20 billion in acquisitions due by the end of 2015,
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