Business

IBM's pension fund sells most of its IBM shares

Also dumps Apple, Intel and Microsoft, plus plenty more. But it's not a good look

By Simon Sharwood

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IBM's pension fund has sold most of its shares in IBM.

The fund's February 2017 SEC filing records it as holding 82,802 shares. But the May 2017 filing records a reduced holding of 12,451 shares.

Selling shares isn't unusual for a pension fund as dividends alone can't always provide such entities with the cash they need to pay the pensions they exist to provide. Indeed, the filings also show that the fund let go of plenty Intel, Microsoft and Apple shares during the first quarter of 2017. The fund also got out of lots of share completely: by our count it quit over 100 companies in the quarter. So perhaps this is a shift in investment strategy that will benefit pension recipients.

But the fund's divestment is still a bad look for two reasons.

Firstly, IBM's pension fund deciding that holding IBM stock isn't the best way to meet its obligations is hardly a vote of confidence in the company's future. Or a vote of confidence in the tech sector in general.

Second, the pension fund is not the only company worried about Big Blue's prospects. Also in Q1, widely-admired investor Warren Buffet recently shed most of his IBM stock after reportedly souring on Big Blue's prospects. Buffet is thought to worry that for all of IBM's impressive dividend-paying powers, its long string of quarterly revenue reductions doesn't exactly suggest its planned cloud-and-AI-fuelled rebound is imminent. ®

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