Good news for International Business Machine (IBM), bad news for investors. On August 2nd, IBM sold $1.5 billion of 3 year debt at a 1% interest rate. This rate is a mere .3% higher than government debt with a 3 year maturity and 50% less than the dividend yield on the common stock.
The Wall Street Journal had a great article talking about IBM’s remarkable track record of being able to issue low rates on bonds right before the Federal Reserve raises rates (link to article: http://blogs.wsj.com/marketbeat/2010/08/05/is-big-blue-flashing-a-bond-warning/?mod=wsjcrmain).
Pretty smart for IBM. If they used the proceeds to buy back their own stock, they are borrowing at 1% to get 2% on their dividend so even if the stock went nowhere they are still ahead of the game. If their track record holds true, this is bad news for bond holders. Higher rates will mean losses for bond investors.
Our advice? Buy the stock with a 2% dividend yield and put it away for the next 5 years.