Analyst: Investors Don’t Appreciate How Unique IBM Is

Ginny Rometty
IBM CEO Ginni Rometty

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Investors don’t realise how undervalued IBM’s shares are, but next year, that will change, says Sterne Agee analyst Shaw Wu in a research note.IBM crested the $200 mark earlier this year but didn’t stay there long. In 2013, Wu thinks that the shares will comfortably hit $230 because, he says, IBM’s business model has proven impossible for rivals to replicate.

Wu explains:

We believe one of the most important lessons in recent years is that it is much more difficult than consensus thinking to replicate IBM’s unique business model where it combines hardware, software, and services and broad geographic reach in addressing the enterprise market. Many companies have tried to replicate IBM without much success and we think this helps prove that replicating IBM is not easy, similar to it not being easy to replicate [Apple] AAPL.”

Many of the big enterprise companies are now gunning to be another IBM and, so far, falling short.

Dell, for example, is struggling to convert itself from a PC maker to an enterprise company.  Shaw has repeatedly cautioned investors about Dell.

He writes: “Despite efforts to grow beyond a PC company with multiple acquisitions over the past few years, we estimate 65%-70% of its business is still tied to PCs. We still believe DELL needs to take bolder, more aggressive steps to reinvent itself.”

HP’s attempts to pull an IBM and grow a high-margin enterprise software business led it to acquire Autonomy for $11.1 billion, which has been nothing but heartburn for the company.

Oracle certainly has the software part down. But it’s stretched itself to build a hardware business. CEO Larry Ellison now has a sound strategy for turning its $7.4 billion acquisition of Sun into a winner for Oracle. The proof will be if he can get the hardware business growing, as he has promised investors, within the next six months.

Cisco recently announced that it’s going to try and become the next IBM, building on the success in data centres.  Cisco now plans to grow its software business, and—rumour has it—will soon dump its last remaining consumer business, Linksys.

That’s reminiscent of IBM, which smartly got out of the consumer PC business eight years ago.

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