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Here’s what’s really behind IBM’s big Apple deal

Here’s what’s really behind IBM’s big Apple deal

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Here’s what’s really behind IBM’s big Apple deal

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It’s the partnership that could shake up the business world in many ways. And it could mean the world’s largest company is breathing new life into an old competitor.

Consumer tech giant Apple and business tech giant IBM will be partnering to go after the enterprise buyer. IBM will create over 100 business applications for iPads and iPhones as well as sell IBM-app-loaded Apple products to business. Those products will then be supported by AppleCare.

It’s not the first time the two companies have worked together—they’ve hammered out smaller deals from time to time over the years. But, it’s still quite a change from three decades ago, when Apple launched the Macintosh computer in a Super Bowl ad that depicted Big Blue as Big Brother in an ad known as “1984.”

In a joint interview on CNBC with IBM CEO Virginia Rometty, Apple CEO Tim Cook said to CNBC’s Josh Lipton:

“It's landmark. It takes the best of Apple and the best of IBM and puts those together.  There's no overlap, there's no competition. They're totally complementary.  And more than anything, it focuses on the enterprise customer. So this is all about transforming enterprise.  Reinventing the enterprise.  Taking big-data analytics down to the fingertips of people so they can spend the time making complex decisions, not running around and getting data.”

(Watch: Apple, IBM in massive enterprise hardware, software partnership)

But this is also the tale of two companies with two very different growth trajectories. Over the past decade, IBM has consistently focused on business technology while Apple has gone from personal computing to consumer electronics. A decade ago, Apple was dependent on its Mac and laptops for more than half of its $6 billion in revenue. Today, nearly threequarters of Apple’s revenue come from iPhones and iPads.

The pivot certainly seems to have worked for Apple, which has seen its market cap grow exponentially over the past 10 years while IBM’s has stayed practically flat.

 

2003 Rev.

2013 Rev.

Market cap 6/30/2004

Market cap 7/15/2014

Stock price 7/15/2004 (split adj.)

Stock price 7/15/2014

Apple

$6.2b

$170.9b

$12.5b

$578.7b

$1.99

$93.52

IBM

$89.1b

$99.8b

$147.7b

$195.5b

$89.00

$181.70

 

Now investors are asking if IBM’s new partnership with Apple will mean some of its magic will rub off.  That may be the expectation, given that IBM shares moved sharply higher on Wednesday.

“The Street’s obviously looking at it being a big deal,” said David Seaburg, head of sales trading at Cowen and Company. “The legacy business, however, has been under fire. It’s been under tremendous amount of pressure.”

While Seaburg sees the partnership as positive for Apple, he believes IBM’s main goal is to get growth momentum back on track. For that reason, he thinks investors should cash in their IBM shares and wait-and-see.

“From a trading perspective, I think the move today actually gives you a chance to sell stock ahead of the quarter,” said Seaburg of IBM, which reports its earnings after Thursday’s close. “I don’t think it’s going to be a great quarter…. You can probably buy it at much lower levels in my opinion.”

(Read: Apple-IBM deal weighs on BlackBerry shares)

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Richard Ross, global technical strategist at Auerbach Grayson, agrees that IBM is a sell.

“I am bearish on IBM shares,” said Ross, a “Talking Numbers” contributor. “It’s very difficult to get too optimistic about IBM even in light of this deal with Apple.”

Ross points out that the stock went almost nowhere during “one of the great bull runs of our time. And, more specifically, one of the great bull runs in old technology stocks like Microsoft, Intel, Cisco, and Hewlett-Packard. So, all of the old guard are working with the exception of IBM.”

“If you cannot work in this environment, what environment is going to be bullish for IBM?” asked Ross. “I really don’t know the answer to that question. In that, I’m a seller of the stock.”

To see the full discussion on IBM, with Seaburg on the fundamentals and Ross on the technicals, watch the above video.

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