IBM Stock Dividend Review & An IBM Stock Analysis

IBM Dividend Safety, Payout, Growth & Much More

The IBM stock dividend is substantial. However, IBM stock has been a poor performer in my dividend investment portfolio. Fortunately, IBM is one of my smaller holdings.

And I have considered selling on a number of occasions. But IBM’s dividend yield is high and attractive.

I ask myself, how will I replace that dividend income in my portfolio? Let’s find the answer to this question and many more about IBM stock.

IBM stock analysis: IBM dividend review

Disclosure: At no cost to you, I may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.

Editors note: IBM has announced the spin-off of its managed infrastructure services business. We will take a closer look at the new, smaller, faster-growing IBM after the transaction closes. For now, let’s look at IBM as it stands in 2021.

IBM Stock Dividend Review

So, an IBM stock analysis and IBM dividend review are in order for today. Maybe you have the same questions that I have?

Such as, is IBM a good dividend stock? Is the IBM dividend safe?

I will answer these questions. Plus, many more. But in case you are looking for other dividend stock articles. Then check out our full library of dividend investing content before you go.

For now, let’s dive into IBM. Starting with a few key takeaways…

IBM Dividend Stock Analysis: Key Takeaways

  • The company’s growth struggles continue to pressure the stock price.
  • With its string of annual dividend increases, IBM is a new addition to the Dividend Aristocrats.
  • The dividend appears safe and is well supported by the company’s strong cash flows.
  • IBM stock has a high dividend yield, but unfortunately, dividend growth has slowed dramatically in recent years.

Next, a little background on the business. Then, onto the dividend metrics.

IBM Company Background

IBM is a global leader in the technology sector.  They operate across a broad area of the technology product and service spectrum.

Their products and services include:

  • Hardware
  • Software
  • Infrastructure and technical support
  • Consulting
  • Cloud computing
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Blockchain

As a technology company, IBM’s products and services are very broad and deep.  In fact, they have been criticized for being too complicated with a lack of integration across product strategies.  Clients can easily be overwhelmed by choice and complexity.

IBM Business Strategy

IBM’s legacy hardware and software operations are stagnant.  The company is focusing on high growth business areas to counteract the shortfall.

They call their growth opportunities strategic imperatives.  These areas include newer technologies like artificial intelligence, cloud computing, and the internet-based ledger technology, blockchain.

Soon, they will split these areas into 2 companies. To separate growth businesses from mature.

Red Hat Acquisition

To accelerate growth, IBM acquired Red Hat in 2019.

Red Hat is a provider of open source software solutions.  They are assisting with the innovative capabilities that IBM must develop to stay competitive and grow.

IBM funded the Red Hat acquisition with a mix of cash and debt. They also suspended share buybacks to protect the IBM stock dividend and reduce debt-to-equity levels.

Red Hat Acquistion Announcement

Here is an excerpt from IBM’s press release announcing the acquisition with some important financial details:

The acquisition of Red Hat reinforces IBM’s high-value model.  It will accelerate IBM’s revenue growth, gross margin, and free cash flow within 12 months of closing.  It also will support a solid and growing dividend.

The company will continue with a disciplined financial policy and is committed to maintaining strong investment-grade credit ratings. We will target a leverage profile consistent with a mid to high single-A credit rating. The company intends to suspend its share repurchase program in 2020 and 2021.

Red Hat And IBM’s Dividend

Paying large sums of money for acquisitions can put a company’s dividend payment at risk. It sometimes makes me question management’s capital allocation and money management practices.

I like that IBM has suspended share repurchases rather than freezing or reducing the dividend.  I also like the statement supporting a solid and growing dividend.

But these expectations and forward-looking statements from the past require close attention now that the acquisition has been closed for more than a year.

I do not want to get caught in a situation where this stock’s high dividend is at risk of being reduced. With IBM stock underperforming in recent years, IBM dividend safety is very important.

So let’s move on with our IBM stock analysis and review IBM’s dividend metrics next.

Does IBM Pay Dividends?

Yes. As a shareholder of IBM stock, you will receive regular dividend payments.

The company has a long, rich history of paying dividends to its shareholders. And there is a lot to like about the current size of IBM’s dividends. Specifically, IBM’s dividend yield.

But, dividend growth has slowed in recent years. And IBM’s dividend payout ratio has been increasing.

So, let’s cover all the facts and figures pertaining to the IBM stock dividend now. Because, when it comes to managing my money, I only invest in stocks that pay dividends.

IBM Dividend Per Share

What’s the first thing we need to know about a company’s dividend? That’s easy. How much is it?

Well, IBM pays an annual forward dividend of $6.56 per share.

Annual forward dividend just means the last approved quarterly dividend. Multiplied by the number of times per year IBM pays dividends.

IBM Stock Dividend Yield

Based on IBM’s stock price at the time of this article update, the IBM dividend yield is 4.3%.

IBM has a fairly high dividend yield, for a blue-chip stock.

A high dividend yield can indicate a dividend that is at risk of being reduced. But, there’s much more to come before I make any conclusions about IBM’s dividend safety.

On the other hand, a high dividend helps boost the income from a dividend portfolio. And making cash money from dividends is what it’s all about for me.

How Often Does IBM Pay Dividends?

IBM pays dividends every 3 months or 4 times per year. Each quarterly dividend payment is one-fourth of the annual forward dividend mentioned above.

When Does IBM Pay Dividends?

Are you looking to get paid dividends during specific months? If so, IBM’s dividends are paid in March, June, September, and December of every year.

The company targets the 10th day of these months to pay dividends to its shareholders. When the 10th falls on a weekend or holiday, IBM’s dividends are paid on the business day prior to the 10th.

What Is The Ex-Dividend Date For IBM?

As a dividend investor, you must complete your purchase before a stock’s ex-dividend date. In order to receive the next IBM dividend payment.

IBM’s ex-dividend date falls in the month prior to when its quarterly dividend is paid. The ex-dividend date is usually at the end of the first week of the month.

IBM’s ex-dividend date is slightly different each quarter. It depends on how the calendar falls. So, it’s a good idea to check IBM’s investor relations website for the exact date.

IBM Stock Dividend History

Like I mentioned earlier in this IBM stock analysis, the company has a long and rich history of paying dividends. This is what I mean by that statement…

IBM has paid consecutive quarterly dividends since 1916. And have increase dividends annually since 1996.

This recently moved IBM from Dividend Achiever status and up into a higher dividend growth stock classification. More on that now…

Is IBM A Dividend Aristocrat?

A Dividend Aristocrat is a company included in the S&P 500 stock index that has increased its dividends annually for at least 25 years.

So, with their 2020 dividend increase, IBM attained the status of Dividend Aristocrat!

Will IBM become a Dividend King? By increasing their dividend for 50+ years in a row?

I’m not sure about that. They have a long way to go.

IBM Dividend Growth Rate

We now know that IBM dividends have been increased for many years. But, what about dividend growth?

Let’s see what the IBM dividend growth rate looks like next.

Table 1: Historical IBM Dividend Growth

1 Year3 Years5 Years7 Years
1.2%3.3%5.4%8.4%

As shown in the table above, dividend growth has slowed in recent years.

Did IBM Raise It’s Dividend Recently?

IBM’s last dividend increase was very small.  The announcement indicated that only a .6% increase would be offered up.

The tiny dividend increase didn’t surprise me.  IBM is telling us they need to conserve cash by temporarily suspending their share buybacks to support the Red Hat acquisition.

That message makes me assume large dividend increases from this company in the next few years are unlikely.

IBM Dividend Policy

I know IBM has a dividend policy. In my opinion, every company has a dividend policy. Whether they choose to communicate it, or not.

IBM’s announcements and actions hint at their dividend policy. But, I’m not aware of any specific communications from management on this topic.

But, allow me to read between the lines. And craft IBM’s dividend policy from what they have said to their investors.

A Dividend Policy Statement In The Red Hat News Release

For example, the Red Hat acquisition announcement gave me some clues.

“The acquisition of Red Hat…will support a solid and growing dividend.”

A View On Dividend Policy From IBM’s Dividend Increase Announcement

And so did the recent IBM dividend announcement. Arvind Krishna, IBM’s CEO said:

“Client adoption of our hybrid cloud and AI technologies, strong cash generation, and disciplined financial management all enable us to invest in the business while continuing to return capital to our shareholders.”

Mr. Krishna continued on. His comments were more specifically about dividends and what they mean to IBM’s shareholders.

“We remain committed to IBM’s secure and growing dividend.”

Reading Between The Lines To Understand IBM’s Dividend Policy

These statements from the company indicate to me that IBM’s dividend policy is to:

  1. Ensure the safety of the current dividend, and
  2. To continue its growth in future years.

I like the messages that are being communicated. Specifically, a safe, growing, consistent stream of dividend income for investors. Even though dividend growth has been unimpressive in recent years.

Let’s move on with our IBM stock analysis by looking at some of the business fundamentals. To see how they support IBM’s statements about its dividend.

IBM Revenue Trend: Its Influence On The Stock & Dividend

Our IBM stock analysis would not be complete without a look at revenues. Topline growth or lack thereof is a hot topic for IBM.

Chart 1: Historical IBM Revenue Trend

IBM stock analysis

This wouldn’t be as big of a concern if IBM operated in a more mature industry. But technology is still a growth business.

It has been well documented. IBM has struggled to transition its business from older declining technologies to newer growth technologies.

These struggles are seen in their declining revenue trend over the past several years. Lower revenues mean rapid dividend growth from IBM is a thing of the past.

A few thoughts on IBM revenues that I have observed over the years…

2017 Revenues

During the 4th quarter of 2017, IBM reported higher revenue for the first time in 23 quarters.  At the time, they signaled continuing growth in 2018.

2018 Reveunes

And it appeared their forecast was correct.  They reported successive quarters of revenue growth.  However, that situation changed in the middle of 2018 as growth faltered.

2019 And 2020 Revenues

And 2019 continued the decline.  With more deterioration in 2020. It is clear that sustainable revenue growth is still a major challenge for IBM.

Let’s see how earnings are holding up. And what IBM’s dividend payout ratio tells us.

IBM Dividend Payout Ratio Based On Accounting Earnings

As the chart below indicates, it is difficult to understand IBM’s dividend payout ratio based on accounting earnings.

Why? Too many accounting adjustments for tax law changes, acquisitions, and pensions costs

I can only draw 2 conclusions. First of all, accounting earnings are volatile. Secondly, IBM’s stock dividends grow consistently regardless of what is going on with earnings per share.

Chart 2: IBM Dividends And Earnings

IBM dividend & earnings trend

Let’s talk a little more about IBM’s earnings.

Share Buybacks Have Supported IBM Earnings Per Share

Until recently, the company used its cash for aggressive share buybacks. When investing in the stock market, fewer shares outstanding serve to prop up earnings on a per-share basis.

But falling revenues and accelerating costs for IBM’s growth initiatives have taken a toll. Plus the suspension of share buybacks has further weighed on per-share profits.

But, IBM’s dividends are paid from cash flow. Not accounting earnings.

So, let’s see if cash flow supports their dividends. By looking at cash, we can get a better read on dividend payment capacity. And IBM dividend safety.

IBM Payout Ratio Based On Cash Flow

Growth issues aside, IBM remains a high margin cash-rich business.  Free cash flow covers the dividend with plenty of room to spare.

Chart 3: IBM Dividends And Cash Flow

IBM dividend payout ratio: cash based

During the past 3 years, IBM cash dividends consumed less than 50% of free cash flow. For the time being, IBM dividend payments appear to be well covered.

And that’s important.  As I said, IBM’s high dividends are paid in cash.  They are not paid from reported accounting earnings! And they have plenty of cash flow to keep on paying shareholders.

IBM Dividend Growth Rate Forecast

For a company going through a tough business transition, like IBM, it’s difficult to make an annual dividend growth forecast. Dividend growth will ultimately depend on revenue, earnings, and cash flow growth. All of which have proven difficult for IBM.

I doubt IBM will return to its days of double-digit percentage annual dividend increases. But, I also don’t believe the most recent, and very small IBM dividend increase is an indication of the future.

So, I’m going to play it right down the middle. For my dividend growth investment planning purposes, I’m going to use a 5% long-term annual dividend growth rate.

IBM Financial Position

Let’s look at the financial position next as part of our IBM stock analysis and dividend review. It will be the final element I need to conclude on IBM’s dividend safety.

To do this, I like to review financial leverage in the form of debt to equity from the balance sheet. And, the company’s credit ratings. A strong financial position is important when looking for good dividend-paying stocks.

IBM Balance Sheet

IBM carries a large amount of debt.  The debt to equity ratio checks in relatively high. Specifically, more than 3 to 1.

As a comparison, technology stocks like Microsoft and Apple have significantly lower debt to equity ratios. So, from a debt perspective, IBM is significantly more leveraged than its blue-chip technology company peers.

This metric bears watching. I’d like to see IBM use some of its excess cash flow, after paying dividends, to reduce debt moving forward. Most recently, they have used their excess cash flow to fortify their cash position.

IBM Credit Rating

IBM has an A2 AND A- credit rating from Moody’s and S&P, respectively.  These ratings represent “investment grade – low credit risk” as shown in the table below.

Table 2: Credit Ratings Support IBM Dividend Safety

Credit rating evaluation grid for each major rating agency

This is a very attractive credit rating.  Financing the Red Hat acquisition has not caused a serious downgrade.

But, it’s another metric I want to keep an eye on going forward. While IBM works through its business challenges.

IBM Dividend Safety

Is the IBM dividend safe?

Yes. I believe the IBM dividend is safe from a potential reduction for the foreseeable future.

I base my conclusion on several things we have discussed thus far.

First of all, IBM has a moderate dividend payout. Evidenced by plenty of cash flow to continue paying the current dividend rate.

Furthermore, the company’s financial position is strong. As indicated by investment-grade credit ratings.

Finally, IBM has recently achieved the status of a Dividend Aristocrat. I believe management will go to great lengths to maintain this title.

Okay. That concludes the IBM dividend review.

But our IBM stock analysis would not be complete without assessing IBM’s stock valuation. Let’s work through that next.

IBM Stock Valuation

Let’s judge value in several ways:

  • IBM dividend discount model
  • Morningstar fair value estimate of IBM stock
  • Personal Finance investment newsletter buy target
  • Dogs of the Dow Theory

IBM Stock Dividend Discount Model

I like to use a single-stage dividend discount model. It is also known as the Gordon Growth Model. Gordon’s model considers several factors I have discussed thus far.

  • Current dividend payment
  • Projected dividend growth
  • My desired annual return on investment – 10%

Using these assumptions, the dividend discount model calculates the fair value of IBM stock at $138 per share.

Morningstar Fair Value

The investment analysis firm Morningstar believes IBM is fairly valued at $125 per share.

Personal Finance Investment Newsletter

The longtime investment newsletter Personal Finance places a buy target on IBM stock at $150 per share or less.

IBM Stock Dividend & Dogs of the Dow

I won’t get into all of the specifics of the Dogs of the Dow stock-picking strategy.  Suffice it to say that under this method, the Dow stocks with the highest dividend yields are deemed to be undervalued and ready for a rally.

And IBM has routinely been one of the highest dividend-paying stocks in the Dow Jones Industrial Average. This year is no different.

IBM Stock Valuation Summary

We have looked at a number of valuation methodologies that suggest a range of values for IBM stock. 

This range of valuation measures indicates to me that IBM stock is trading near its fair value. Actually, a bit overvalued, in my opinion.

For most of the last few years, the stock has been a “value-trap”. Rather than a good value.

IBM Stock Analysis & Dividend Review Wrap Up

Let’s wrap up our IBM stock analysis.

Is IBM still a top dividend stock? What other important points have we learned?

Is IBM A Good Dividend Stock?

First of all, the IBM stock dividend is substantial. As a result, IBM has an attractive dividend yield.

Furthermore, IBM’s dividend is well-covered by cash flows. Also, it is supported by a strong financial position.

Finally, in my opinion, the dividend is safe from being reduced. However, IBM’s dividend growth has slowed and will likely remain lower than in the past.

IBM Revenue Trend

IBM’s multi-year struggle to return to consistent revenue growth has not yet ended.  Their expensive bet that acquiring Red Hat will help them solve this problem adds financial risk to the situation.

IBM Stock Value

If IBM can return to growth, the stock appears to be a good value.  In contrast, if growth continues to falter, the stock will likely remain range-bound at or near current levels.

Unlike many of the other dividend stocks I own, IBM has a much greater risk versus reward proposition.

My Path Forward with IBM stock

It’s no secret. IBM has not been one of my big dividend investing successes.

Nevertheless, I plan to hold my shares.  I’d like to let the dust settle on the spin-off of managed infrastructure services. Then reevaluate my position moving forward.

On the other hand, if I ever feel IBM’s dividends are in jeopardy of being reduced. I hope to exit the stock before too much damage is done. After all, IBM’s dividends are important to me as an investor.

Further Reading About Dividend Investing And Dividend Stocks Like IBM

My Favorite Dividend Investing & Financial Resources

Disclosure & Disclaimer: I am not a licensed investment adviser, financial adviser, or tax professional. And I am not providing you with individual investment advice, financial guidance, or tax counsel. Furthermore, this website’s only purpose is information & entertainment. And we are not liable for any losses suffered by any party because of information published on this blog.

I own IBM stock and collect the IBM stock dividend!