Matthew Waterman
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Matthew Waterman in Brand Power,

Don't Sweat IBM's Stagnating Sales

Wall Street tends to put a lot of focus on growth. Analysts watch revenues more than any other metric in a company's earning statements. So when a company fails to grow the top line, even in the face of strong earnings power, analysts start issuing sell advice to their clients. That's a mistake that you can exploit to get ownership of a great company at a great price.

Take IBM (IBM) for example. Even though the quarter was solid, it was the 16th in a row with no revenue growth, so it's selling off today. While it's great to see both together, earnings per share and revenues can move in opposite directions when management uses the cash flow coming in to buy back shares. And that's exactly what IBM has been doing. 

So as a shareholder, even though the company performance has stalled, the investment performance has excelled. Even though EPS hasn't really moved in several years, the stock price is selling at 2/3rds of the P/E ratio that it had as recently as 2012. Meanwhile, dividends increased from 75 cents per share all the way up to $1.30. You are getting more for your money than you were in 2012.

So relax. IBM has plenty of cash on hand, and they are still making plenty of cash on what they are already selling. Stagnant is not the same as declining in earnings. Keep that in mind. Since they are continuing to spend on R&D, sooner or later IBM will return to a growth phase. Buy this "Grey chip" today while it's still a great deal.