IBM is putting its money where its heart is and buying back $3.5 billion (#2 billion) of its own common stock in an attempt to drive its stock value to an end of year peak.
The move was approved by IBM officials last week. Once the purchase has been completed, IBM will have spent nearly $14 billion on share buy-backs in less than two years.
IBM's stock has been hovering around a nine year high for about two weeks.
However, some observers have questioned whether IBM is spending its money wisely.
Michael Murphy, editor of the California Technology Stock Letter, was quoted in the Wall Street Journal as saying: "Buying back shares is what a company does when it has no investment alternatives. What it should be doing is buying companies to patch up its weakest areas."
An IBM spokesman dismissed the remarks: "We've actually been buying and making acquisitions, so to say we don't have any alternatives is certainly not accurate."
The spokesman added that buy-backs are not uncommon and that "this is just an announcement of the authorisation of buying back $3.5 billion common shares".
He did not rule out the possibility of further acquisitions: "We've still got other acquisitions in mind, but we haven't exactly had a quiet two years: we bought several companies such as Cascade and Xylan and of course Lotus."
The $3.5 billion gives IBM several options and has fuelled rumours the company is looking to take over Novell. Neither IBM nor Novell would comment.
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