With tech earnings underway, hedge-fund traders have more stocks to manipulate than ever (just kidding, kind of). It’s been a volatile earnings season, with many beaten-down tech stocks — notably Apple (AAPL) — popping on unexpectedly positive results.
Let’s take a closer look at Apple, and other strong tech companies joining Apple with happy news including Facebook (FB) and VMware (VMW).
Apple, the consumer electronics products goliath, on Tuesday afternoon posted $35.3 billion in revenue and net profit of $6.9 billion during its third fiscal quarter ending June 29. Profit was $7.47 a share, down from $9.32 a year ago. But all of these numbers beat consensus expectations, which were looking for $35 billion in revenue and $7.32 in profit. The company generated $7.8 billion in cash flow during the quarter and reported that it has returned18.8B in cash to shareholders through dividends and buybacks.
Apple provided guidance of revenue between $34-37B and gross margins of between 36-37 in the fiscal fourth quarter.
Apple said it sold 31.2 million iPhones, a record for the June quarter, compared to 26 million a year ago. It sold 14.6 million iPads ruing the quarter, compared to 17 million a year ago. It sold 3.8 million Mac computers, which was slightly down from 4 million a year ago.
This was good for $30 pop after earnings, with Apple shares recently trading hands $438. But at despite this recently rally and the broader market rally over the last year, Apple shares are trying to bottom after a medium-term downtrend over the last year or so. They are nearly 40% off the all-time high of $700 hit briefly last October.
Perhaps the most important element to Apple’s earnings news were hints from Apple CEO Tim Cook about new products coming in the fall, which he predicted would be a “busy season.” He also said that he doesn’t believe the smartphone market is saturated, saying, “I don’t subscribe to the common view that the high-end of the smartphone market has hit its peak.”
Does that mean that Tim Cook also believes that Apple stock hasn’t peaked? Despite hints from Cook about upcoming new product releases, nothing tangible was announced. So far the market and rumor-mill has put forth expectations of a cheaper new iPhone, an Apple iTV, and Apple iWatch, and other various permutations of household iAppliances. This is what the market really wants: New products. That’s what the stock needs to regain upside momentum.
Apple still looks great on a valuation basis. With a forward P/E ratio of 10, a P/E/Growth (PEG) ratio of .5, and a 3% dividend yield, Apple is a deal no matter how you look it it. Why the huge discount for one of the world’s best company. It must be lingering doubts about whether Cook can lead the company to innovate the way Steve Jobs did.
(Disclosure: I own Apple stock.)
Facebook on Wednesday night put the big move on mobile. The company had been criticized following its IPO for lagging in a mobile advertising story, and now it has delivered a big one: It announced during its earnings call that mobile advetising revenue represented 41% of revenue during the second quarter. It also announced that Mobile Daily Active Users (DAUs) were 819 million, and increase of 51% over the same period last year.
Facebook reported total revenue of $1.8 billion, an increase of 53% over the prior year’s quarter. Revenue from advertising was $1.6 billion, up 61% year-over-year (YOY). GAAP costs and expenses were $1.25B, a decrease of 35% YOY. Costs were down mostly due to the absensce of share-based compensation that Facebook had to charge for its IPO proceeds in 2012. non-GAAP costs, excluding these charges, were $1B, up 52% YOY. Total non-GAAP income in the quarter was $794 million, up 54% YOY.
This was enough to push Facebook’s stock up big-time. Shares popped about 25% on the market open this morning. But as usual, keep in mind that buying stock is all about timing — Facebook has has had a ridiculously large range since it’s IPO. Since going public last May near $40, the stock fell as low as $17.55. Today it’s trading around $30, well above the lows but still almost 30% below its first day of trading in the IPO.
So what’s the deal, is Facebook a good deal? It’s got a market cap of $80 billion — that’s the biggest problem. But the stock could now go on a run because analysts will now have to ratchet up their earnings estimates based on Facebook’s impressive quarter. Recent consensus estimates were for .78 cents in profit in 2014. That currently gives Facebook a forward P/E of 42, which actually isn’t bad for a company that just grew revenue and profits about 50% annually. If you can get over Facebook’s scary market cap for such a young company, it may still be a good buy.
(Disclosure: I own Facebook shares.)
Let’s face it, VMware is the master of virtualization — doesn’t that sound cool? The company, which pioneered the market for virtualization services — which can slice up computing power from servers in data centers and parcel it out to different users using software — is hitting on all cylinders, still. The stock popped about 20% after its earnings were released on Tuesday evening.
The company reported second-quarter revenues of $1.24 billion, in increase of 11% over the second quarter of last year. Operating income was $270 million, an increase of 28% YOY. Net income was $244 mllion, or .57 per share, up 28% YOY. Taking out special charges, the company earned .79 per shares, beating analyst estimates of .77.
This company is solidifying its standing as a standard-bearer in server virtualization, which is becoming increasingly important as companies and software providers move their IT operations out to the cloud. In fact, VMware recently announced a big win with Japanese telecom giant NTT Communications (NTT Comm), in which NTT Comm will deploy VMware as the core technology for its new Enterprise Cloud service.
VMware’s stock has been a similar story to high-tech giants such as Apple, lately — it’s still well off its highs. VMware hit a 52-week high of $103 back in April of 2012, but it’s been slumping since. Today it was trading at around $83. So, despite the post-earnings pop, it’s still 20% off its all-time high.
VMware currently trades at a forward P/E of about 22. With a recent growth rate of close to 25%, its PE, should come in line close to 1, which is a fair value. At the current time, VMware shares are neither cheap nor overly expensive.
(Disclosure: No position)