Remember when the only thing that drove IBM higher was a record amount of stock buybacks, duly noted on this website? Well, the magic of financial engineering for IBM appears to have come crashing down with a bang, not a whimper, because in the fourth quarter, with the rating agencies carefully watching its total debt/equity ratio, Big Blue repurchased a tiny $132 million in stock in the quarter - the lowest buyback in years.
Still, the lingering effects of the buyback continues as can be seen in the dramatic difference between IBM's Q4 Net Income of $5.5 billion, down 11.3% Y/Y, and its EPS of $5.54, down only 4.0% Y/Y.
Unfortunately for IBM, it better resume its financial engineering fast because this is where the bang (not the whimper) comes into play: in Q4, IBM's revenue was a modest $24.11 billion, far below the Wall Street estimate of $24.8 billion, and a whopping 12% less than what IBM generated a year ago. In fact, as the following chart shows, the annual plunge in IBM Q4 revenue was the worst since Lehman.
What was the culprit this time: the weather, the strong dollar, or plunging crude: we can't wait as the sellside narrative promptly changes to sucker even more muppets into what is shaping up to be Buffett's worst investment in recent history.