Social gaming pioneer Zynga reported its first-quarter results following Wednesday's closing bell, posting a surprise profit thanks to a series of successful cost-cutting measures. The news wasn't all good, however, as the company offered a weaker-than-expected outlook for the current quarter, prompting an after-hours sell-off that saw shares sink some 10 percent in aftermarket trading. Of course, the stock was up 42 percent on the year at the close, so Wednesday's losses are not likely to spark any major wave of concern for the company.
The world's largest tech firm posted its fiscal second-quarter earnings Tuesday, posting stronger than expected earnings and revenue as sales of its popular iPhone and iPad remained strong. The company also announced it was returning more of its substantial cash hoard to shareholders by increasing its dividend and expanding a cash buyback program. Unfortunately, Apple's guidance moving forward fell short of analyst expectations. The company's stock fluctuated through Tuesday's session, plunging sharply at the open before climbing back to close up slightly.
Ford Results Beat the Street on Strong North American Performance
Ford Motor Company issued its first-quarter results Tuesday, surpassing analyst expectations with earnings as its performance in North America helped offset weakness in other parts of the world. The performance is a reflection of Ford's efforts over the last 18 months to expand its stable of offerings while pumping new life into its F-Series of pickup trucks. Thanks to its success in the US, Ford said its revenue and deliveries increased in the quarter by about 10 percent on a year-over-year basis.
The United States' largest non-tech company issued its first-quarter results Friday, exceeding Wall Street estimates on profit despite missing on revenue. General Electric posted net income of $3.53 billion, or 34 cents a share, up 16 percent from the same period a year earlier. The company's overall revenue actually exceeded analyst estimates, but only thanks to the sale of NBC Universal. Without those proceeds, and a healthy profit in the company's GE Capital finance arm, the firm's industrial business produced revenue of $22.6 billion, down 6 percent on a year-to-year basis.
VolkswagenAG issued its 2012 full-year earnings on Friday, posting a 41 percent increase in profit but missing Wall Street estimates. The German automaker said its profit totaled 21.7 billion euros in 2012, up from 15.4 billion euros in 2011, largely due to an accounting shift that placed Porsche in Volkswagen's stable of brands. Overall revenue for the year, meanwhile, rose 21 percent from a year earlier to 192.7 billion euros. The company also topped 9 million vehicles sold for the first time ever in 2012, with total deliveries rising 12.2 percent on a year-to-year basis to just shy of 9.3 million. Like the world's other major automakers, Volkswagen was hit by lagging sales in Europe, but its performance in North America and Asia more than offset that decline.
Zynga shares surged in after-hours trading after the mobile gaming pioneer posted an unexpected profit. The shares, which had already gained just over 7 percent during Tuesday's session, rose another 6.6 percent after hours as investors welcomed the company's earnings as revenue also topped Wall Street estimates. The company also got a lift early Tuesday when Merrill Lunch analyst Justin Post lifted his rating on the stock from “underperform” to “buy,” an upgrade of two notches. Post cited Zynga's growing presence in the mobile gaming space and an impressive portfolio of assets for his renewed optimism in the tech firm, and raised his price target for Zynga stock from $2.70 to $3.40 a share.
Yahoo issued its fourth-quarter results after Monday's closing bell, sending shares higher by about 5 percent as earnings topped Wall Street estimates in the third set of results in CEO Marissa Mayer's tenure. The company's revenue matched analysts' expectations as well, and was an increase of 4 percent over 2011's fourth quarter, evidence that Mayer's ambitious turnaround plans are having an impact. The Sunnyvale, California company also reported full-year revenue of $4.5 billion, up 2 percent from fiscal 2011. The results were seen as a win for Mayer, a former Google employee, who has enjoyed tremendous popularity with media and Yahoo shareholders since she took the office about six months ago.
Tech stocks were pressured Friday by shares of Intel Corp. after the world's largest computer chip maker posted a drop in earnings and revenue for last year's final three months. The company issued the report after Thursday's closing bell, holding back stocks including the company's own shares, which were down 6.7 percent with just a half hour left in Friday's session. The other chipmakers saw their shares slip, as well, though the broader Nasdaq had rebounded late in the session and was just shy of breaking even for the day with the trading day nearly over.
American Express has succumbed to the fiscal crunch plaguing financial services firms in recent months, announcing Thursday that it will cut some 5,400 jobs from its underperforming travel unit. The company did say that some of the lost jobs will be replaced by new positions in other divisions, but the company does expect to reduce its current workforce of nearly 64,00 by between 4 and 6 percent by the end of this year. Morgan Stanley announced on Wednesday it was trimming payroll by about 3 percent with 1,600 layoffs, and Citigroup revealed a layoff of 11,000 last week, as well. These moves have all been part of broader efforts by the firms to revamp how they do business in the post-recession, higher regulation financial sector.
US corporate earnings season got off to a fast start Thursday as Alcoa matched or surpassed Wall Street expectations with earnings and revenue. As the first of the Dow Jones industrial average's 30 components to report every quarter, Alcoa often serves as a bellwether for major US stock indexes. The company also often reflects conditions throughout the broader economy as its products are used in a wide array of other industries. Alcoa's latest earnings buoyed investors, giving all three indexes small gains despite the uncertainty surrounding new regulations in the framework of President Obama's new healthcare plan and the recent cuts agreed to to divert the fiscal cliff.