In the wake of International Business Machines Corporation's (NYSE:IBM) latest US$3.5b market cap drop, institutional owners may be forced to take severe actions

  • In Business
  • 2022-10-01 14:00:49Z
  • By Simply Wall St.

To get a sense of who is truly in control of International Business Machines Corporation (NYSE:IBM), it is important to understand the ownership structure of the business. With 57% stake, institutions possess the maximum shares in the company. In other words, the group stands to gain the most (or lose the most) from their investment into the company.

As a result, institutional investors endured the highest losses last week after market cap fell by US$3.5b. Needless to say, the recent loss which further adds to the one-year loss to shareholders of 8.8% might not go down well especially with this category of shareholders. Institutions or "liquidity providers" control large sums of money and therefore, these types of investors usually have a lot of influence over stock price movements. Hence, if weakness in International Business Machines' share price continues, institutional investors may feel compelled to sell the stock, which might not be ideal for individual investors.

Let's delve deeper into each type of owner of International Business Machines, beginning with the chart below.

Check out our latest analysis for International Business Machines

What Does The Institutional Ownership Tell Us About International Business Machines?

Institutional investors commonly compare their own returns to the returns of a commonly followed index. So they generally do consider buying larger companies that are included in the relevant benchmark index.

International Business Machines already has institutions on the share registry. Indeed, they own a respectable stake in the company. This implies the analysts working for those institutions have looked at the stock and they like it. But just like anyone else, they could be wrong. It is not uncommon to see a big share price drop if two large institutional investors try to sell out of a stock at the same time. So it is worth checking the past earnings trajectory of International Business Machines, (below). Of course, keep in mind that there are other factors to consider, too.

Institutional investors own over 50% of the company, so together than can probably strongly influence board decisions. Hedge funds don't have many shares in International Business Machines. The Vanguard Group, Inc. is currently the largest shareholder, with 8.6% of shares outstanding. Meanwhile, the second and third largest shareholders, hold 7.7% and 5.9%, of the shares outstanding, respectively.

Our studies suggest that the top 25 shareholders collectively control less than half of the company's shares, meaning that the company's shares are widely disseminated and there is no dominant shareholder.

While it makes sense to study institutional ownership data for a company, it also makes sense to study analyst sentiments to know which way the wind is blowing. There are a reasonable number of analysts covering the stock, so it might be useful to find out their aggregate view on the future.

Insider Ownership Of International Business Machines

The definition of company insiders can be subjective and does vary between jurisdictions. Our data reflects individual insiders, capturing board members at the very least. Management ultimately answers to the board. However, it is not uncommon for managers to be executive board members, especially if they are a founder or the CEO.

I generally consider insider ownership to be a good thing. However, on some occasions it makes it more difficult for other shareholders to hold the board accountable for decisions.

Our information suggests that International Business Machines Corporation insiders own under 1% of the company. It is a very large company, so it would be surprising to see insiders own a large proportion of the company. Though their holding amounts to less than 1%, we can see that board members collectively own US$137m worth of shares (at current prices). In this sort of situation, it can be more interesting to see if those insiders have been buying or selling.

General Public Ownership

The general public-- including retail investors -- own 43% stake in the company, and hence can't easily be ignored. While this size of ownership may not be enough to sway a policy decision in their favour, they can still make a collective impact on company policies.

Next Steps:

It's always worth thinking about the different groups who own shares in a company. But to understand International Business Machines better, we need to consider many other factors. Like risks, for instance. Every company has them, and we've spotted 2 warning signs for International Business Machines (of which 1 doesn't sit too well with us!) you should know about.

If you would prefer discover what analysts are predicting in terms of future growth, do not miss this free report on analyst forecasts.

NB: Figures in this article are calculated using data from the last twelve months, which refer to the 12-month period ending on the last date of the month the financial statement is dated. This may not be consistent with full year annual report figures.

Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at)

This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. We provide commentary based on historical data and analyst forecasts only using an unbiased methodology and our articles are not intended to be financial advice. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. We aim to bring you long-term focused analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Simply Wall St has no position in any stocks mentioned.

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