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Wall Street Beat: Tech earnings provide bright spot for markets

Marc Ferranti | Feb. 3, 2014
Positive earnings news from the likes of Facebook, Google and Apple helped boost tech shares in what was otherwise a gloomy week for the markets.

Yahoo's report on Alibaba, the Chinese Internet giant in which it has a stake, was worrying. Yahoo said that Alibaba's revenue for the quarter ending in September was $1.78 billion, up 51 percent year over year. For most companies, that would sound good. But for Alibaba, that means sales growth is slowing. In the prior three month period, growth was up 61 percent year over year, and for the quarter before that, growth was up 71 percent year over year.

Nevertheless, in a strong day for tech on the markets, Yahoo shares closed Friday at $36.01, up by $0.70.

Amazon shares, on the other hand, plunged even though it turned in a strong quarter. Amazon shares went into free-fall Friday, sinking $44.32 to close at $358.69.

Its strong results didn't quite come up to expectations. The company said that for the fourth quarter it had a profit of $239 million, or $0.51 cents a share, up from 97 million, or $0.21 cents a share, a year earlier. But estimates from analysts polled by Thomson Reuters were for $0.66.

Net sales also came up short of forecasts. Net sales jumped 20 percent year over year to $25.59 billion but analysts were expecting $26.06 billion, according to Thomson Reuters.

Amazon may be the victim of the law of large numbers in business: the bigger a company is, the harder it is to increase results by large percentages.

Amazon also said it would be raising fees for its Prime shipping program, a move that could turn some customers away.

Outside of the Internet sector, Apple Monday reported a strong start to its fiscal year. Though profit was flat at about $13.1 billion, revenue rose to $57.6 billion from $54.5 billion a year earlier. Earnings per share were better than expected, with Apple's $14.50 per share beating out analyst expectations for $14.09 per share.

Apple set a company record by selling 51 million iPhones in the quarter.

Though Apple expectations for the current quarter were soft, investors apparently see resilience in the company. On Friday Apple shares closed at $500.60, up by $0.82.

 

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