After the closing bell on Thursday, investors will turn to quarterly earnings results from tech giants Microsoft, Amazon.com and Zynga. Tech stocks showed some staying power over the last few weeks, despite the 16-day U.S. government shutdown.
“Well, I think it’s a trend for technology in general,” said Mark Newton, chief technical analyst at Greywolf Execution Partners. “A lot of tech stocks have been really resilient. The entire government shutdown was solved without really a correction in the stocks at all.”
Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) is expected to report fiscal 2014 first-quarter earnings of 54 cents on revenue of $17.80 billion, compared with a profit of 53 cents a share on revenue of $16.01 billion a year-ago.
“Today’s the day that’s fairly big for investors with Microsoft and Amazon on the plate,” said Newton. “Microsoft and Amazon had pretty big moves in the last six months. Microsoft has been a bit more range bound, but it did hit the highest level since 2000 back in May.”
Also on Thursday afternoon, Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) is expected to report a fiscal third-quarter loss of 10 cents a share on revenue of $16.77 billion, compared with a loss of 60 cents a share on revenue of $13.81 billion in the year-ago period.
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“Amazon, on the other hand, is something where the stock has been up about 10 percent in the last 10 days, and everybody is trying to see whether they can continue this growth even though their earnings aren’t there, but they’re providing the infrastructure, which really should lead the business forward,” Newton said. “I think that if you think of retail in five years down the road, everyone thinks that Amazon should be the dominant player versus the traditional mom and pop retail stores that are out there.”
Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) on Tuesday unveiled the highly anticipated iPad Air and iPad Mini, and although the stock edged lower following the announcement, shares are still trading above the key $500 level. After Apple revealed its next-generation iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C at an event in September, shares fell 2.3 percent to $494.64. On Thursday, shares of Apple were trading up 1.37 percent to $532.17 in afternoon trading.
“You have to be forward-looking,” said Newton. “That’s a reason why Apple started to decline last September because following Steve Jobs, people were really concerned about a lack of innovation after they came out with the iPod, iPad. They said, ‘Well what’s the growth strategy going forward with [Tim] Cook?’ That’s the same thing now with Microsoft, where people sort of scratch their heads and say, ‘Well what’s going to be the new platform that allows them to compete?’ You need to constantly have some sort of innovation and be forward looking and one step ahead of the curve to continue to have your stock grow. It’s really not about what you’re earning. It’s all about the future. It’s all about what do you see six to 12 months from now.”
Microsoft has been in the headlines in recent months following Steve Ballmer’s announcement in August that he will resign as Microsoft CEO within the next year. The software giant also struck a $7 billion deal with Nokia Corporation (NYSE:NOK) in September to purchase its phone and tablet business.
“Well, you want to see what the vision is and what the statement typically that follows the earnings is going to be going forward,” said Newton. “That’s what’s really on investors’ minds, is who’s going to be the replacement for Ballmer? How are they going to get Windows to be a bigger part of the mobile platform going forward?”
During the previous quarter, Microsoft issued fiscal fourth-quarter earnings and revenue that fell short of Wall Street expectations. Earnings excluding items fell to 66 cents per share as revenue improved to $19.9 billion, compared with earnings of 67 cents a share on revenue of $18.06 billion in the year-earlier period. Analysts had expected the company to report earnings excluding items of 75 cents a share on $20.73 billion in revenue, according to analysts polled by Reuters.
“They’ve had some really good success with the Xbox and with their server sales business, but the other part’s been disappointing with regards to growth,” Newton said. “The stock really is at the same level or below when Ballmer took over back in 2000.”
Shares of Microsoft edged up 0.55 percent to $33.94 in afternoon trading on Thursday ahead of the company’s earnings statement.
Amazon’s second-quarter fell short of Wall Street estimates, as it issued a cautious revenue outlook. The company issued a net loss of $7 million, or 2 cents a share, compared to a profit of $7 million, or a penny a share, during the same period a year earlier. Revenue came in at $15.7 billion.
For the third quarter, Amazon is forecasting net sales of $15.45 billion to $17.15 billion. On Thursday, shares of Amazon rose 1.67 percent to $332.20 in afternoon trading.
“People like Amazon, regardless of the fact that the company doesn’t make any money,” Newton said. “With a leader like [Jeff] Bezos, people have a lot of confidence in him that he’s on the right track. [Amazon] continues to beat expectations and the stock has literally been up tenfold in the last five years.”
Also after the bell on Thursday, Zynga Inc. (NASDAQ: ZNGA) is expected to report a loss of 3 cents per share in the fiscal third quarter on revenue of $142.67 million, compared with a loss of 7 cents per share on revenue of $255.61 million in the second quarter.
Zynga’s stock fell 1.55 percent to $3.49 ahead of the earnings announcement.