I wasn’t in Boston over the weekend, so I wasn’t there to see Neil Diamond sing “Sweet Caroline” live and in person at Fenway Park.
But I was introduced to the tradition during my own first visit to Fenway a year ago this May, and I can’t think of a more fitting way to kick away the dust of fear and horror last week than something as American as having Neil Diamond show up at the ball park to sing “Sweet Caroline”!
If you’ve never experienced it firsthand, basically here’s how it goes: In the middle of the eighth inning, since 2002, “Sweet Caroline” is played over the loudspeakers at Fenway, and the great citizens of Bostons (and Red Sox fans everywhere) do a little audience participation. It’s not quite a “Rocky Horror Picture Show” level of audience participation, but then again, this is baseball and we’re between innings people!
Go find some of the video recaps to see for yourself, but if you did see Diamond out there on the diamond doing it live this weekend, amd if that didn’t send a couple of tears to your eyes, you’d better check to make sure the drones from Tom Cruise’s new movie “Oblivion” (and which I saw this weekeend…two thumbs up!) haven’t taken over.
Of course, I guess if you didn’t want anyone to see you cry you could invest in some of these new techno glasses, Google’s or otherwise.
According to The New York Times, Oakley’s also getting into the act, working to introduce goggles that can display incoming text messages, have embedded GPS, Bluetooth, and video cameras.
Skiers, please, keep your eyes on the slopes at all times!
That goes for you cyclists looking to check your heartbeat in your newfangled high tech cycling glasses every five seconds.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for having performance biometrics, even in real-time, but I think we have to think very carefully about how that information is presented back to athletes, especially those mid-mountain or mid-peloton.
If you’ve ever nearly been run over by someone who was texting while driving, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
I texted while driving for a time. But about the fourth time I nearly rear-ended someone, it dawned on me that texting while driving was a bad idea. Very bad. And this was well before any of those anti-texting public ad campaigns had emerged.
These days, I find myself constantly scanning my rear-view mirror in fear of some other idiot not having come around to a similar conclusion, which is its own kind of dangerous distraction.
So what’s going to happen on the ski mountains across the globe when folks are too busy checking their optimum heart rate to see those trees racing up towards their performance glasses?
There will be an inordinate demand for well trained ski patrol professionals, that’s what!
I was sitting here at JFK waitin’ on a plane and IBM’s 1Q 2013 earnings came across the wire, so here goes:
- Diluted EPS: GAAP: $2.70, up 3 percent; Operating (non-GAAP): $3.00, up 8 percent
- Net income: GAAP: $3.0 billion, down 1 percent; Operating (non-GAAP): $3.4 billion, up 3 percent
- Gross profit margin: GAAP: 45.6 percent, up 0.6 points; Operating (non-GAAP): 46.7 percent, up 1.0 points
- Revenue: $23.4 billion, down 5 percent, down 3 percent adjusting for currency
- Free cash flow of $1.7 billion, down $0.2 billion
- Software revenue flat, up 1 percent adjusting for currency; Pre-tax: income up 4 percent; margin up 1.2 points
- Services revenue down 4 percent, down 1 percent adjusting for currency; Pre-tax: income up 10 percent; margin up 2.0 points
- Services backlog of $141 billion, up 1 percent, up 5 percent adjusting for currency; Closed 22 deals of more than $100 million in the quarter
- Systems and Technology revenue down 17 percent, down 16 percent adjusting for currency
- Growth markets revenue down 1 percent, up 1 percent adjusting for currency
- Business analytics revenue up 7 percent; Smarter Planet revenue up more than 25 percent; Cloud revenue up more than 70 percent
- Reiterating full-year 2013 operating (non-GAAP) EPS expectation of at least $16.70.
IBM announced first-quarter 2013 diluted earnings of $2.70 per share, a year-to-year increase of 3 percent. Operating (non-GAAP) diluted earnings were $3.00 per share, compared with operating diluted earnings of $2.78 per share in the first quarter of 2012, an increase of 8 percent.
First-quarter net income was $3.0 billion, down 1 percent year-to-year. Operating (non-GAAP) net income was $3.4 billion compared with $3.3 billion in the first quarter of 2012, an increase of 3 percent. Total revenues for the first quarter of 2013 of $23.4 billion were down 5 percent (down 3 percent, adjusting for currency) from the first quarter of 2012.
“In the first quarter, we grew operating net income, earnings per share and expanded operating margins but we did not achieve all of our goals in the period. Despite a solid start and good client demand we did not close a number of software and mainframe transactions that have moved into the second quarter. The services business performed as expected with strong profit growth and significant new business in the quarter,” said Ginni Rometty, IBM chairman, president and chief executive officer.
“Looking ahead, in addition to closing those transactions, we expect to benefit from investments we are making in our growth initiatives and from the actions we are taking to improve under-performing parts of the business. We remain confident in this model of continuous transformation and in our ability to deliver our full-year 2013 operating earnings per share expectation of at least $16.70.”
Pre-tax income decreased 6 percent to $3.6 billion. Pre-tax margin decreased 0.1 points to 15.4 percent. Operating (non-GAAP) pre-tax income decreased 1 percent to $4.1 billion and pre-tax margin was 17.4 percent, up 0.8 points.
IBM’s tax rate was 15.9 percent, down 4.1 points year over year; operating (non-GAAP) tax rate was 17.3 percent, down 3.2 points compared to the year-ago period. The lower tax rate is primarily due to benefits recorded to reflect changes in tax laws enacted during the quarter, including the reinstatement of the U.S. Research and Development Tax Credit.
Net income margin increased 0.5 points to 13.0 percent. Total operating (non-GAAP) net income margin increased 1.2 points to 14.4 percent.
The weighted-average number of diluted common shares outstanding in the first-quarter 2013 was 1.12 billion compared with 1.17 billion shares in the same period of 2012. As of March 31, 2013, there were 1.11 billion basic common shares outstanding.
Debt, including Global Financing, totaled $33.4 billion, compared with $33.3 billion at year-end 2012. From a management segment view, Global Financing debt totaled $25.2 billion versus $24.5 billion at year-end 2012, resulting in a debt-to-equity ratio of 7.2 to 1. Non-global financing debt totaled $8.2 billion, a decrease of $0.6 billion since year-end 2012, resulting in a debt-to-capitalization ratio of 34.3 percent from 36.1 percent.
IBM ended the first-quarter 2013 with $12.0 billion of cash on hand and generated free cash flow of $1.7 billion, excluding Global Financing receivables, down approximately $0.2 billion year over year. The company returned $3.5 billion to shareholders through $0.9 billion in dividends and $2.6 billion of gross share repurchases. The balance sheet remains strong, and the company is well positioned to support the business over the long term.
Greetings from lovely White Plains, New York.
I’ve been up here a few days, having flown up to New York City on Monday for a series of meetings.
No sooner had I accompanied my colleague down to baggage claim at JFK than I saw the first reports emerging about the bombings in Boston.
Not long after we heard about the ricin letters.
And then this morning I woke up to the news about the fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas.
It made me sick to my stomach, and my heart goes out to the folks in West.
I drove through there just last weekend on my to Lake Whitney just west of West to play some golf with my father.
Many of the people who live there are of Czech descent, and are known for both their hospitality to travelers and for their scrumptious kolaches.
So I wanted to pass along this “Things You Need to Know About West” list, for I and my colleagues are feeling a little homesick at the moment being up here in the Northeast while all this is going on back on our doorstep in central Texas.
Thankfully, I’ll be heading back home later this afternoon, which means I’ll likely be in a JFK queue instead of reporting on IBM earnings, as I’m normally wont to do on earnings day.
I’ll be sure to do an earnings post when I get back to Texas.
I joked on Facebook last evening that I was going to have to pay a visit to my cardiologist after watching the dramatic finish to this year’s Masters.
Sunday at the Masters has become a timeless classic when it comes to drama, and whether or not you’re an avid golf fan like me, if you sit down and pay just a wee bit of attention, there’s something in it for everyone.
This year, especially, there was plenty in it for all my friends down under in Australia, and so I want to first congratulate them, and their first green jacket winner, Adam Scott. After Scott’s majors breakdown in The Open last year, it was great to see Scott finally reach down within himself and come out the victor.
Not to mention what I can only imagine means a huge deal in sporting Australia, where Aussie golfers like Greg Norman who, though never grabbing their own green jacket, inspired a whole generation of young and brilliant golfers like Jason Day and Adam Scott.
As it turned out, there was plenty of drama throughout the weekend. Chinese 14 year-old phenom Guan Tianlang received a one-stroke penalty on Friday for slow play and still went on to win low amateur (we’ll be hearing plenty from Mr. Guan moving forward, I’m sure), and Tiger Woods incurred a two-stroke penalty after an illegal drop on 15 on Friday, after his brilliant approach shot hit the flagstick and bounced backwards into the water.
Give Tiger that birdie and back the two strokes he lost on the bad drop, and yesterday’s outcome might have been very, very different.
But in the end, it was a Masters that more than lived up to its name, and kicks of the year’s golf majors with the kind of compelling golf that simply leaves you wanting more.
Even if it is bad for one’s heart.
That’s it, today’s the day.
The first players have already teed off at the Masters in Augusta.
Yesterday, I discussed the virtual means by which you could experience playing at Augusta National.
Today I’m going to focus on the various means by which you can follow this year’s action on and off the course.
First, and most importantly, the leaderboard.
On the Masters web site, for which IBM is the longtime technology sponsor, you can go to the virtual equivalent of the traditional Masters leaderboard.
You can also find the leaderboard on this year’s revamped iPad app, which I’m quickly leaning on as my 19th hole for following all the action from Augusta.
This year it includes live video from a number of the holes, including Amen Corner, 15, 16, as well as two “featured groups,” a Masters “in-depth” feature channel, and for those warm-ups, the driving range, and over the weekend a live simulcast of CBS’ TV coverage.
You’ll be able to access live radio, news features, and pictures from the grounds (including new 360 panoramic images that I suspect will be suitable for framing!).
As for TV coverage itself, that doesn’t start in the U.S. until 3:00 PM EST ESPN. However, live video coverage begins on Amen Corner starting at 10:45 AM on the Website and via the mobile applications, so if you’re hankering to get out to the action, that’s going to be your fastest way in.
This year, IBM is leaning heavily on its SmartCloud technology to help drive quality and continuous operations, along with the flexibility and scalability required by the Masters.
As players peak on the course, we typically see a resultant workload increase in our technology systems.
This helped lead to have the need to provision a new Presentation Services “instance,” for example, in less than 3 minutes using Tivoli Provisioning Manager, as it helps us get new virtual machine instances up and running quickly.
We are also able to move one workload to another on our POWER systems powering the Masters using our Live LPAR mobility in four minutes without service interruption.
Can you say pressure putt???
So as the tournament begins, who will I be keeping a close eye on?
Tiger, for sure. Phil. Brandt. Rory. Graeme. Garrigus. Schwartzel. Colsaerts. Poulter. Oosthuizen. Guan (the 14 year-old Chinese kid).
It’s just an incredibly talented field, as, of course, it always is. Length and shot shaping are always helpful at Augusta, especially right to left, but as Zach Johnson proved several years ago, shorter hitters can score (and win) if they play the right angles.
As for me, I went back and played another virtual round at Augusta last night in my Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12 and shot 2 under.
There’s hope for me yet. That means I would currently be tied with Jim Furyk for second place in my Walter Mitty golf fantasy. But it’s only Thursday…
It’s Masters week, if you hadn’t already figured that from all these golf- and Masters-related golf posts.
I’ve never had the honor of visiting or playing Augusta National myself, but I know people who have.
In fact, I was attending a recent IBM event in Las Vegas when a very senior IBM executive confided to me that he had played Augusta National for the first time recently with several other very senior ex-IBM executive (the gender mix of which I’m not at liberty to reveal.)
I asked him what he shot, and it was a very respectable mid-handicap number, especially for Augusta National — people who don’t know golf can’t really fathom how long 7,435 yards is for a golf course. (That’s why you see so many players who don’t have good distance off the tee hitting long irons and even utility clubs to get onto Augusta’s greens.)
He also explained, as I’ve also heard from others, that TV just doesn’t do the course justice. He explained that the hills and undulations are so much more pronounced when you’re out there walking the grounds.
“Eighteen,” he explained, me nodding my head. “Like walking straight up a hill.” On TV, it obviously looks like it’s uphill, but not nearly the angle at which he was suggesting.
It was at this point that I had to tune out, as he was killing me with this reveal.
So yesterday, after work, I decided I wanted to get to know the course better, and figured why not try and see if there were any golfing games that included Augusta National in their course lineup.
I figure this is the only way I’m going to play some of the world’s great courses, so it’s probably a pretty good investment.
Turns out, Electronic Arts had released a Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2012 edition in that year that included the ability to play Augusta National, and they had a Mac edition, AND Amazon would allow me to download it on the fly and install it.
All for a whopping $20.
I also discovered the 2014 Tiger Woods PGA Tour edition will have a version of Augusta for the Masters in 1934 — so not only can you play with the likes of Bobby Jones and Ben Hogan and all the other greats, but you can play the course the way Bobby Jones and Alister Mackenzie originally designed it.
You just have to have an X-Box 360 or Playstation 3 (neither of which I own!)
The 2012 version will do nicely for now. Once the DMG was downloaded and I had installed the software and got the online presence set up (the game allows you to play a round with others out in cyberspace), I was off to hole number 1, Tea Olive (see pic above).
My score for the round was atrocious, as I was just learning all the controls for shotmaking in the game (that’s my excuse and I’m sticking with it), but the visualizations and greenery were an excellent way to find your way around the course, and to help you better learn how and why players navigate Augusta National the way they do.
For the record, on number 12, I hit about five balls into Rae’s Creek before finding the green — hopefully not a prophecy of things to come should I ever get to actually play a round at Augusta National.
I also found myself in situations that most Tour players would never find themselves which, for me, is about par for the course.
IBM announced a couple of nice wins these past few days.
One, a partnership agreement between IBM and Itella, a leading provider of business services in Europe and Russia.
It’s a seven-year cloud computing agreement to help Itella streamline its business operations and improve its flexibility and time-to-market, and allowing them to focus on their core business and develop new services for their clients.
Itella provides postal, logistics and financial transaction process services in Northern and Central Europe, as well as Russia.
Specifically, IBM will build a private cloud to provide hosting as well as application management and development services to Itella. With the cloud, IBM will automate basic production of technology services as well as improve the quality and management of those services.
“Through this operating model renewal, we can adopt a flexible service delivery to increase automation and introduce best practices, utilizing IBM’s world-class competence,” said Jukka Rosenberg, Senior Vice President, Itella Mail Communications. “Through the partnership, we can make our operations more efficient and cut costs, without compromising our high-quality service.”
And nearly halfway around the globe and just north of here, the great state of Oklahoma is partnering with IBM to save $15 million over the next five years and to help improve services to state residents there.
As governments institute structural changes in the way agencies measure performance and deliver services, data analytics and new delivery models can help lead the way for transformations that realize a measurable return on investment and improved quality of life.
By analyzing business processes and consolidating IT projects, IBM will help the state gain significant savings in software licensing and technology maintenance costs— resulting in an expected IT budget recovery of 30 percent.
“At a time when we all have to learn to do more with less money, IBM has been instrumental in identifying and prioritizing IT consolidation projects for the state of Oklahoma, at the same time allowing us to invest in new services for our residents,” said Alex Pettit, chief information officer, state of Oklahoma.
“IBM brought not only its extensive public sector services experience to help create the initial business case for this project, but also worked with participating agencies to verify that the new technology environment would improve mainframe service and reduce costs.”
IBM helped the state to understand the challenges of providing IT services to various agencies with diverse requirements for data management and federal reporting.
The new IT infrastructure established a model for IT compliance with federal guidelines on program data and processes, using an IBM System z mainframe. IBM also helped the state meet project funding requirements—bridging the financial gap between the initiation of the project and the cost savings.
The agreement helps ensure that the delivery of technology services is more effective and more consistent. In addition, the new infrastructure gives each agency more control over the quality, performance, and support of their technology environment.
Ultimately, the consolidation of five mainframe platforms also yielded significant savings in costs and lower lease costs. The recommended options projected an 18-30 month payback period that would save 25–30 percent of the state’s combined annual IT budget.
IBM worked with the state on a detailed analysis of the IT infrastructure and opportunities to consolidate computing capacity, storage, network, backup and disaster recovery capabilities.
The plan included development of a target architecture, establishment of a high-level roadmap, and development of a services delivery schedule between the Office of Management and Enterprise Services (OMES), responsible for operating the consolidated environments, and each state agency.