IBM suffered another tough quarter. The tech company saw its 14th straight quarter of declining sales.
IBM Corp. disclosed Tuesday that the Securities and Exchange Commission is looking into certain transactions in the U.S., Ireland and the United Kingdom, sending its share price down on a day that was already trending downwards.
The news came as the company, beset with a sagging stock price, said it has thrown another $4 billion of its cash into the fund with which it will buy back its own stock.
IBM (IBM) was down 4% as the market closed Tuesday.
The IBM filing said, “In August 2015, IBM learned that the SEC is conducting an investigation relating to revenue recognition with respect to the accounting treatment of certain transactions in the U.S., U.K. and Ireland. The company is cooperating with the SEC in this matter.”
That came in a regular filing of a 10-Q quarterly report at about 1:45 p.m.
The board of directors announced the buyback move earlier, along with declaring an expected regular dividend of $1.30 a share.
IBM said it will buy shares, “on the open market or in private transactions from time to time, depending on market conditions.”
The newly authorized sum adds to about $2.4 billion remaining at the end of September from a prior authorization, the announcement said. That brings the kitty to about $6.4 billion that could be spent buying up stock.
Stock buybacks are one way of using cash to try to bolster share prices in the market. First, investors usually favor it as a sign of management’s desire to please stockholders. Second, it tends to increase the value of the remaining shares.
A buyback reduces the number of shares in the public “float” as the company takes them off the market. The company’s underlying business is essentially the same, but it is now spread over a smaller number of shares. Hence, each remaining share is worth more.
That’s in theory. But if so, no sign of it appeared in trading after the announcement, with shares trending down in the early day before and after the announcement. Having closed at $143.66 Monday, Tuesday’s trading was down about $1.87 at 12:45 p.m.
Then, at about 1:45 p.m., the quarterly 10-Q report was filed with the federal Securities and Exchange Commission, and shares plunged another $3.
Ginni Rometty, IBM chairman, president and chief executive officer said in announcing the buyback, “We are committed to a higher-value strategy fueled by innovation and a shift to new growth opportunities. We manage the business for the long term and will continue to return significant value to shareholders through dividends and share repurchases.”
The move is timely for IBM because its share price has sagged and remained down since a year ago when a troubled earnings report came out on the same day IBM announced it was shedding its semiconductor manufacturing business and paying GlobalFoundries $1.5 billion to take it.
Subsequent earnings reports have been characterized by decreasing revenues as the company exits declining businesses and invests in “strategic imperatives” that management believes have a bright long-term future, though perhaps not as quickly as shareholders hope.
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