IBM reports revenue bump after four quarters of decline

20 Apr 2021

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Revenues and profits for the last quarter were up at Big Blue with its cloud business driving growth after a rocky year.

After four consecutive quarters of revenue decline, IBM reported an increase in earnings in its latest quarterly report.

Big Blue announced revenues of $17.7bn for the first quarter of 2021, with much of the spike being attributed to sales in its cloud computing business. Profits for the quarter came in at $8.2bn.

IBM’s cloud and cognitive software business, which includes Red Hat, raked in $5.4bn with Red Hat revenue up 17pc.

Its global technology services division, which includes managed services, outsourcing and support, brought in $6.4bn – slightly down on the last quarter.

“Strong performance this quarter in cloud, driven by increasing client adoption of our hybrid cloud platform, and growth in software and consulting enabled us to get off to a solid start for the year,” IBM chief executive Arvind Krishna said.

“While we have more work to do, we are confident we can achieve full-year revenue growth and meet our adjusted free cash flow target in 2021.”

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Chief financial officer James Kavanaugh added that IBM improved “the fundamentals of our business model” in this quarter while increasing investments in AI and hybrid cloud.

The first three months of 2021 saw IBM go on something of a spending spree with the acquisitions of 7Summits, a Salesforce consultancy, and Taos, a managed cloud services provider. This continued an M&A trend for the company in 2020.

At the same time, IBM offloaded more than 250 patents to grocery delivery company Instacart.

The quarter paints a rosier picture for IBM after a difficult year, but questions still abound about Big Blue’s future.

The company is planning to split itself into two different listed companies with its IT infrastructure services business to break away into separate company. The split is expected to be completed by the end of 2021.

Meanwhile, its IBM Watson Health division is reportedly under consideration for being sold off as the company focuses on AI and cloud.

Jonathan Keane is a freelance business and technology journalist based in Dublin

editorial@siliconrepublic.com