IBM cloud service revenue up despite 14th quarterly revenue decline

IBM2IBM has posted an unexpectedly large drop in revenue and cut its full-year profit forecast, blaming the strong US dollar for dampening demand from China and emerging markets. Though cloud, big data, mobile and other strategic markets are growing, their rise is not enough to arrest a long term trend of decline.

IBM, which gets more than half its business from overseas, says it has been affected as the dollar is currently 17% up on its standing against a basket of currencies compared to this time last year.

Chinese sales were particularly affected, with fewer big deals being registered. As a consequence revenue from China fell 17%, IBM’s chief financial officer Martin Schroeter told analysts. Sales in Brazil, Russia, India and China combined were down 30%.

The company’s total revenue fell 13.9% to $19.28 billion in the quarter, below analysts’ average forecast of $19.62 billion.

It was the 14th quarter in a row that IBM has posted a reduction in revenue. As IBM divests itself of low-margin businesses it has failed to make up the shortfall, yet, through cloud computing, according to analysts.

“This is another example of the massive headwinds that traditional tech stalwarts are seeing in this ever-changing environment, as more customers move to the cloud,” said FBR Capital Markets analyst Daniel Ives.

According to IBM CFO Martin Schroeter, weakness in IBM’s consulting and storage businesses account for the revenue shortfall, rather than the performance of its cloud services.

“I would characterize it as the consulting and systems integration business moving away from these large, packaged applications and the storage business moving to flash and to the cloud,” Schroeter told Reuters in an interview.

Revenue from IBM’s ‘strategic imperatives’, cloud and mobile computing, data analytics, social and security software, rose 17 per cent in the third quarter ending on Sept 30th.

IBM’s net income from continuing operations fell to $2.96 billion, or $3.02 per share, from $3.46 billion, or $3.46 per share, a year earlier.

At the close of trading yesterday (Monday) IBM’s shares had fallen 7 per cent this year.