Wall Street Beat: Tech shares tread water in wake of mixed earnings

Reports from Apple, Facebook, SAP and other major vendors are not strong enough to lift gloom

By , IDG News Service |  

Apple results this week disappointed, even though the company had its best quarter ever for both sales and profit. Sales of iPhones and iPads fueled a 27 percent year-over-year jump in quarterly revenue, to $35.97 billion. Net profit came in at $8.2 billion, up from $6.6 billion. However, profit was below analyst expectations and the company's earnings guidance for this quarter also came up short compared to expectations.

One of Apple's main problems is that component supplies are constricting production and it was not able to meet demand.

Apple shares were down by $2.16 to $607.37 in Friday afternoon trading. Some analysts maintain a positive outlook, however.

"Given management comments of quickly improving iPhone 5 supply and our checks indicating record demand, we believe Apple's Q1/F2013 guidance could prove conservative," said Canaccord Genuity's Michael Walkley in a research note Friday. "We maintain our belief Apple is well positioned for strong F2013/14 earnings growth driven by new product launches across its portfolio."

Enterprise software has been one of the bright spots for tech this year and this week was no exception, with SAP reporting its best third quarter ever. Revenue increased year over year by 16 percent to ¬3.9 billion (US$5 billion). Software sales increased 17 percent to ¬1 billion. Profit declined 51 percent to ¬618 million, due mainly to one-time charges associated with its Ariba acquisition and a comparison to the quarter last year when income was boosted due to a reduction in provisions for its lawsuit with Oracle.

However, SAP said sales of it HANA in-memory computing platform and mobile-related sales were on track to meet expectations. The company boosted its revenue growth forecast to 10.5 percent to 12.5 percent in constant currency and non-IFRS (international financial reporting standards) terms. The prior forecast was for 10 percent to 12 percent growth and did not include income from Ariba, the cloud-based collaborative commerce applications company.

In the online arena, Facebook results this week caused some good cheer. Revenue for the third quarter rose 31 percent year over year to $1.26 billion.

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