IBM's Q4 earnings are solid, despite light revenue

New IBM CEO Ginni Rometty sticks with Big Blue's outlook for 2012... and 2015.

Larry Dignan

IBM's fourth-quarter earnings were solid, although its revenue was lighter than expected. The company's 2012 and 2015 outlooks remain on track.

Big Blue reported fourth quarter earnings of $5.5 billion, or $4.62 a share. Non-GAAP earnings, which excludes charges and other items, were $4.71 a share.

Wall Street was looking for fourth quarter earnings of $4.62 a share on revenue of $29.7 billion.

For the fourth quarter, revenue was up 4 percent. CEO Ginni Rometty, however, said that the company is on track toward delivering 2015 operating earnings of $20 a share. Wall Street was watching to see if Rometty would stick with IBM's 2015 view.

As for IBM's outlook, the company projected 2012 earnings of $14.85 a share on a non-GAAP basis and $14.16 a share GAAP. Wall Street was looking for earnings of $14.82.

By the numbers for the fourth quarter:

  • Services revenue was up 3 percent to $10.5 billion. Business services revenue was $4.9 billion. Services backlog was $141 billion.
  • Software revenue was up 9 percent in the fourth quarter to $7.6 billion. Operating income was $3.7 billion. Middleware revenue was $5.2 billion, up 11 percent.
  • Revenue in the BRIC countries--Brazil, Russia, India and China--was up 10 percent.
  • Hardware revenue was $5.8 billion, down 8 percent from a year ago. Operating income was $790 million, down 33 percent. IBM was coming down from a mainframe upgrade cycle.

This item first appeared on ZDNet's Between the Lines blog under the headline "IBM: 2012 outlook solid, 2015 roadmap on track."