#Virginia Rometty, the chief executive officer of International Business Machines Corporation (NYSE: #IBM), was among several U.S. and German business leaders that met with President Donald Trump and Chancellor Angela Merkel at a meeting held on Thursday, marking Merkel's first face-to-face meeting with Trump since his January 20 inauguration. Also in attendance were Mark Benioff, the CEO of Salesforce.com, Inc. (NYSE: CRM); Josef Kaeser, the CEO of Siemens Aktiengesellschaft (OTC: SIEGY); Ivanka Trump; and Jared Kushner, a group which CNBC called a "who's who of business and political leaders."
Speaking at the meeting, Ms. Rometty announced "two programs." The first is said to involve hiring 2,000 veterans to train and become certified in "cybersecurity." The second was described as a "public-private partnership" involving a "six-year high school" program, where graduates earn hire-able associates degrees. She described the initiative as being one of conducting training at the "intersection of business and technology."
IBM stock sells off on Rometty veteran's initiative announcement
IBM stock was sold on the news, falling $1.59, or close to 1 percent, on heavier-than-average volume, on a day when the Standard & Poor's 500 Index lost 0.13 percent. IBM closed at $175.65, just below its all-time high of $182.79, set in February. Over the past year, IBM stock has gained 20.5 percent, compared with a gain of 16.19 percent for the S&P 500 Index. Shares of IBM have participated along with most of the broad market in what has been described as a Trump stock market rally.
Over the past 90-day period, Wall Street estimates have remained steady for per-share IBM earnings for fiscal 2017 and 2018. Sluggish EPS growth of 1.5 and 2.5 percent is forecast in 2017 and 2018, respectively. The street view is calling for average annual EPS growth of 2.56 percent for the coming five years.
Levered operations result in blockbuster return on equity
With its last financial results, reported on January 19, IBM reported a return on equity of 72.41 percent, an operating margin of 17.73 percent, and a profit margin of 14.85 percent. The technology pioneer and employer of 380,300 held $8.93 billion in cash, and $42.18 billion in debt, giving the firm a debt-to-equity ratio of 229.32 percent. IBM has a forward price-to-earnings ratio of 12.42.
Among the 19 firms who offer price targets and recommendations for IBM stock, the average target is $170.68. Targets range from $110 to $215. The average recommendation for IBM is 2.8, where 1.0 is characterized as a "strong buy," and 5.0, a "sell."