Big Blue's big data could bring big profits
IBM is positioned nicely to benefit from this growth market.
By Tom Taulli
Big Data -- technology that helps process huge amounts of information to get insights on business trends and the like -- is a hot area of tech.
A leader in the industry, Splunk (SPLK), for example, pulled off a hot IPO this year, posting a return of 70%. Other names in the sector, such as Good Data and Datastax, have also gotten solid funding recently.
Yet Big Data is not just for scrappy startups. Traditional tech operators should also benefit. One that looks particularly interesting is IBM (IBM). The company, of course, is a pioneer in handling huge amounts of data. Keep in mind that its mainframes power many of the world's largest companies and governments.
But IBM has also been refocusing its business on software with a string of acquisitions. A key part of the strategy: analytics -- all part of the vision of a "smarter planet."
What does that mean? Well, IBM is becoming a source of actionable information. The company released a report providing in-depth analysis of the Black Friday shopping rush, for instance.
The report found that mobile devices have quickly become a major force for researching products and finding deals. In fact, Apple's (AAPL) iPad resulted in more retail purchases than any other device, while social networks like Facebook (FB) were a minimal factor for shoppers.
All of this information is from the IBM Benchmark. Essentially, it is a massive cloud-based data platform that tracks over 500 online retailers. The underlying technology came from the acquisitions of Coremetrics and Unica.
Admittedly, Big Data is just one part of IBM's business. But it is likely to be a nice growth driver for the long-haul as the amount of data will continue to grow at explosive rates. At the same time, the company should benefit from other categories such as the cloud and mobile. Plus, IBM's core infrastructure technologies will remain critical for them.
For investors, the stock price is certainly attractive now. Since mid-October, it has gone from $207 to $192. As a result, the forward price-to-earnings ratio is a reasonable 11.5 and the dividend is a decent 1.8%. All in all, this looks like an attractive price for investors who want to participate in -- and benefit from -- some of tech's megatrends.
Tom Taulli runs the InvestorPlace blog IPOPlaybook, a site dedicated to the hottest news and rumors about initial public offerings. He is also the author of "How to Create the Next Facebook" and "High-Profit IPO Strategies: Finding Breakout IPOs for Investors and Traders." Follow him on Twitter at @ttaulli. As of this writing, he did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.
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