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Wall Street Beat: Despite Apple's fall, Microsoft profit drop, tech sales do well

Marc Ferranti | Jan. 28, 2013
Generally strong vendor reports help boost markets to levels not seen since before the Great Recession

Meanwhile, IBM's fourth-quarter net income increased 6.3 percent to $5.83 billion, though total revenue dipped about 1 percent to $29.3 billion.

The company's software products and sales in developing markets returned to growth, though its services business declined. Investors appeared to like the company's report though, sending shares up this week. IBM's guidance of 2013 helped. The company forecast earnings per share of at least $15.53, an increase of 8 percent.

For its part, Google wowed investors by reporting that quarterly revenue, excluding fees to sites that run its ads, hit $14.42 billion, up from $10.6 billion a year earlier. Net income including the loss from the Motorola Home business division was $2.89 billion compared to $2.71 billion. Google shares jumped from $702.81 before the report to close at $754.21 Thursday, though they slipped by a few pennies in Friday afternoon trading.

On the software front, SAP sales were a harbinger of good things to come this year. SAP said revenue in the fourth quarter grew by 12 percent to €5 billion (US$6.6 billion), helped by strong growth in the market for its cloud applications, its HANA in-memory database and mobile applications. SAP's operating profit was, however, down by 5 percent in the fourth quarter to 1.6 billion, mainly because of expenses on share-based compensation and acquisition-related charges.

But SAP forecast software and software-related service revenue growth of 11 percent to 13 percent in constant currency terms for the year, excluding one-time items. SAP shares rose steadily this week.

On the company's conference call, SAP co-CEO Bill McDermott said that while many companies were holding off purchases while waiting to see what would happen to the so-called U.S. "fiscal cliff," fears of an austerity-induced recession seem to be fading. The fiscal cliff was a series of budget cuts set to go into effect if the U.S. Congress had not reached at least a partial deal on taxes and spending.

"We see early evidence already, now that we're through the fiscal cliff, that [business has] loosened up and returned to a normal state again, which is quite encouraging," McDermott said.

There was also plenty of good news in the consumer electronics market this week:

--Samsung's Galaxy S3 and Note 2 handsets helped increase quarterly net profit by 75 percent to 7 trillion won (US$ 6.56 billion) from 4 trillion won a year ago. Revenue was 56 trillion won.

--Nokia reported fourth-quarter sales of ¬8.04 billion (US$10.71 billion), down 20 percent year on year, resulting in profit of ¬202 million, compared to a net loss of ¬1.07 billion a year earlier.

All major U.S. exchanges and indexes rose Friday, after the S&P 500 broke 1,500 for the first time since December 2007. Though a drop in claims for unemployment benefits helped, strong prospects for tech were also credited with the general optimism. The Nasdaq computer index rose 2.2 points Friday to close at 1559.61, despite Apple's declining share price.


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