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IBM touts new business strategy

Ginni Rometty, CEO of IBM
Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images

IBM has disappointed its shareholders, but the company's executives plan to convince investors that the tech giant is pivoting to faster-growing businesses that can revive optimism in Big Blue's future.

For fans of IBM, it's been a challenging couple of years. In 2013, the stock slipped 2 percent, which earned it a dubious distinction: It was the only stock in the Dow Jones Industrial index that finished in the red that year. Then, last year, IBM declined nearly 15 percent.

This year, IBM is up 1.5 percent.

At its annual investor briefing in New York, IBM's leaders on Thursday will talk about how the company plans to win back investors and jumpstart its business by investing more aggressively in powerful, higher-value products and services.

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Specifically, IBM is shifting $4 billion in spending to its cloud, analytics, mobile, social and security businesses in 2015. With these investments, the company says, revenue from these areas will reach an expected $40 billion by 2018, representing more than 40 percent of overall revenue.

That's a significant jump. Together in 2014, these business lines generated $25 billion in revenue.

One knock against IBM is that at least initially, the company misjudged how disruptive cloud technology would be to its business. But IBM is now transitioning to the cloud era as rapidly as it can: Its cloud businesses generated $7 billion in annual revenue last year.

That remains a relatively small part of its broader business, but it's scaling quickly at a 60 percent annual clip and remains critical to IBM's future.

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In addition to discussing new initiatives, CEO Ginni Rometty and her lieutenants will talk about the company's longer term plan to deliver low single-digit revenue growth and high single-digit operating earnings-per-share growth driven by innovation in its core businesses.

The bears have been in charge of Big Blue, but bulls argue that given the company's strategic shifts and relatively cheap stock price, IBM represents an opportunity for investors.

They have at least one very powerful investor on their side: Warren Buffett, the Oracle of Omaha himself, who disclosed a stake in IBM in November 2011 and recently added to it.