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IBM delivers solid results in trying times

23 Jan 2013

IT industry bellwether IBM has posted a small dip in annual sales but seen profits rise, as the technology giant rode out the economic storms.

For its year ending 31 December 2012, IBM posted sales of $104.5bn, down 2.3 percent on the previous year's $106.9. Its fourth quarter results were marginally better, with sales of $29.3bn, a 0.6 percent dip compared to 2011's $29.5bn.

But profits were up to $16.6bn for 2012, compared to $15.9bn in 2011. Again quarterly results were slightly better, with its $5.8bn fourth quarter profits up 6.3 percent compared to the year ago quarter.

“Our performance in the fourth quarter and for the full year was driven by our strategic growth initiatives -growth markets, analytics, cloud computing, Smarter Planet solutions - which support our continued shift to higher-value businesses,” said Ginni Rometty, IBM chairman and chief executive.

And while sales fell slightly, much of that can be accounted for by currency fluctuations, IBM claimed.

Rometty also added that in the coming year, IBM would focus on areas such as big data, mobile solutions, social business and security.

Nonetheless, IBM's solid performance was given a boost by sales in emerging markets. In EMEA, its performance was far more sluggish, with annual sales dropping six percent year-on-year to $31.8bn – again IBM attributed much of this to unfavourable exchange rates.

IBM's passable performance stands in contrast to results posted by newer, more cutting-edge technology firms, such as Google. It yesterday confirmed that annual revenues topped $50bn for the fist time.

But IBM's results also need to be viewed in light of current economic conditions, with many market watchers predicting that large enterprises would clamp down on IT spending in the fourth quarter of 2012, because of uncertainty in the US over the so-called fiscal cliff.

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