Skip to main content

A letter from the Chairman

We Will Emerge Stronger

In closing, I think it’s worthwhile to step back and consider this moment, and our response to it, in a broader context. Many companies are reacting to the current global downturn by drastically curtailing spending and investment, even in areas that are important to their future. We are taking a different approach.

Of course, we must continue to improve our competitiveness. But while we maintain discipline and prudence in the near term, we also maintain the discipline to plan for the future. We’re not looking back, we’re looking ahead. We’re continuing to invest in R&D, in strategic acquisitions, in growth initiatives — and most importantly, during these difficult times, in our people.

In other words, we will not simply ride out the storm. Rather, we will take a long-term view, and go on offense. Throughout our history, during periods of disruption and global change, this is what IBM has done. Again and again, we have played a leadership role. We have imagined what the world might be, and actually built it.

We find ourselves at such a moment now. This is an inflection point — both in the course of modern technology and economic history, and in the nearly 100-year journey of IBM. As someone who has been here for more than a third of that journey, I can tell you that it presents the best opportunity I have seen in my IBM career to align those two trajectories in very powerful ways.

From cabinet rooms, to board rooms, to kitchen tables around the world, people are eager for change. Such a mandate doesn’t come around very often — perhaps once in a generation, or once in a century. It’s not something to squander. I and my fellow IBMers have no intention of doing so.

Let me close by expressing my pride in the worldwide IBM team for bringing us to this point, and my gratitude to you, our shareholders, for your unwavering support. I hope that you are pleased with how your company is performing and evolving. And I trust that you share our excitement about the role we can play in what promises to be a new era for our industry, for business and for our planet.

Signature of Samuel J Palmisano, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer

Samuel J. Palmisano
Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer

The selected references in this letter to the company’s financial results (i) excluding Enterprise Investments and stock-based compensation, (ii) at local (constant) currency, and (iii) excluding Global Financing receivables are, in each case, non-GAAP financial measures. These references are made to facilitate a comparative view of the company’s ongoing operational performance. Information about references to the company’s financial results excluding Enterprise Investments, stock-based compensation and Global Financing receivables is provided in the company’s Form 8-K submitted to the SEC on January 20, 2009 (Attachment II — Non-GAAP Supplementary Materials). Information about references to local currency is provided in the company’s 2008 Annual Report to Stockholders (Management Discussion — Year in Review) and in the company’s Form 10-K for 2008 (Part II, Item 7).

Back to Top

Generating Higher Value

Annual Report page

Learn how IBM’s transformation has positioned us to help our clients and our shareholders succeed in turbulent times.

Smarter Planet


Will be instrumented, interconnected, intelligent. People want it. We can do it.