16 January 2004 IBM, Sun Microsystems and Juniper Networks have each reported strong financial results, offering further evidence that the downturn in corporate IT spending is drawing to a close.
The news follows similarly upbeat results from Apple and Intel yesterday.
IBM reported a 9.4% rise in fourth quarter revenue — up from $23.68 billion to $25.91 billion. For the full year, IBM failed to top the $90 billion mark, but arrested a three-year decline in annual revenues. They rose 9.8% to $89.13 billion, while full-year net income increased 112% from $3.58 billion to $7.58 billion.
CEO Sam Palmisano said that big customers were finally loosening the purse strings. “The client buying environment is steadily improving,” he said. “We are enthusiastic about our prospects for this year and beyond.”
While IBM’s figures were helped along by a number of acquisitions, chief financial officer (CFO) John Joyce suggested that growth would continue during the next year. “I would characterise 2004 as a year when the IT industry will begin its next growth cycle,” he said. “In a recovering economy, a customer’s first step is to update their technology infrastructure.”
Results at Unix systems supplier Sun Microsystems, one of the hardest hit big system vendors during the IT spending downturn, were less impressive, but still better than expected.
In its second fiscal quarter to the end of December 2003, revenues fell by 0.9% to $2.89 billion, although CFO Steve McGowan suggested that customers in the hard-hit telecoms sector were buying again.
Bolstering McGowan’s claims, high-end networking hardware maker Juniper Networks reported a strong rise in revenues of 28% during 2003, up from $546.5 million to $701.4 million. Fourth quarter revenues rose even more strongly, up by one third to $207 million.