The past few weeks have not brought the rosiest of earnings seasons in Tech Land.
In fact, while it’s often difficult to draw sweeping conclusions from a single quarter, the parade of financial earnings seems to point toward a long year ahead for public technology companies. (Note to unicorns eyeing the IPO market: Be afraid. Be very afraid.) The tech-heavy NASDAQ is down almost 15 percent from the start of the year.
In several specific cases, the earnings reports delivered brutal verdicts on the state of many one-time darlings. Here’s a rundown of the biggest losers (from an abundance of candidates) followed by a handful of winners (required a lot more hunting):
1. GoPro (GPRO): With layoffs announced earlier in January and grim reports of holiday sales, expectations were low. But the real numbers were still devastating: Revenue plunged 31 percent! Stock in the company is down from $64.74 last August to $10.17 yesterday. With a market cap of $1.4 billion but a great brand, don’t be surprised if suitors start sniffing around.
2. Twitter (TWTR): No surprise here, given the company’s turmoil over the past year. But reporting ZERO user growth isn’t the kind of start recycled CEO Jack Dorsey probably wanted. With the stock in the dumps, he can’t expect too much patience from either Wall Street or Twitter’s restless and outspoken users.
3. Yahoo (YHOO): Again, bad news is no shocker, as this company has been limping along for an eternity, and CEO Marissa Mayer has thus far failed to spark a turnaround. She can claim a small victory by having gained one last chance to fix Yahoo. But she will spend a lot of time this year firing people and selling off parts of the company. And with the board acknowledging it could be open to a sale, Mayer will be working with a guillotine hanging over her head.
4. Apple (AAPL): It feels a bit odd to put the largest company in the world in the “loser” category. But Apple did lose its title (briefly) as the world’s most valuable company. And with flat iPhone sales and projections of a decline in the current quarter, the company is facing one of its most challenging years in some time, at least in the eyes of Wall Street. Since April 2015, Apple’s stock has fallen from $132.65 to $93.70 yesterday. Long-time investors will have their faith tested.
5. Pandora (P): The earnings weren’t terrible. The music-streaming service reported decent revenue growth, with $1.16 billion for 2015, up from $921 million the year before. But that growth came amid reports that the company had begun searching for a buyer. That growth rate and the mounting costs just aren’t giving investors confidence that Pandora can keep slugging it out against Apple Music and Spotify.
6. Activision Blizzard (ATVI): The gaming giant reported a dip in revenue and profits for the normally robust holiday quarter. Wall Street no likey. Its stock got hammered by 16 percent after the results were released.
7. Ubisoft (UBI.PA): The French gaming company also reported a dip in revenue as its flagship franchise, “Assasin’s Creed,” is showing its age.
8. Amazon (AMZN): My boss might argue that this belongs in the win column. But investors beg to differ. Rather than focus on Amazon’s big profit, they fretted about holiday sales that came in under expectations and growing expenses. Since the end of December, the stock has fallen from $689.07 to $503.82.
9. Zynga (ZNGA): Zynga may have beaten Q4 financial estimates and announced 10 games for 2016, but investors were not impressed. They were worried about weak guidance and a declining user base. Its barely visible stock price is still managing to take a hit.
10. LinkedIn (LNKD): LinkedIn reported weak guidance for the coming year and investors lost their minds. The stock fell by more than 40 percent in one day. And since hitting $255.54 in early November, it’s down to $103.47 yesterday. Winning back investor trust in the coming year will be a challenge.
1. Facebook (FB): Revenues and profits up. Users up. Mobile strategy firing on all cylinders. Video exploding. The company is going full guns. Investors drove the stock way up after earnings, though it’s tumbled back down in the broader tech sell-off.
2. Tesla (TSLA): Tesla Motors projected two days ago that deliveries of its Model S sedans and Model X SUVs would beat analysts’ estimates. Oh, and the company says it will be profitable in 2016. After seeing its stock drop sharply in recent weeks, this news has briefly turned the tide. Now, will it last?
3. Netflix (NFLX): Netflix earnings delivered some pleasant surprises, topping expectations for subscriber growth and profits. Still, it’s been caught up in the general negativity around tech, watching its stock drop from $130.93 in December to $83.35 yesterday. Still, we’ll call it a win, with a big slate of original programming coming this year. And the announcement that it’s adding service in more than 100 new countries is going to no doubt goose growth for the coming year.
4. Google, er Alphabet (GOOG): Sorry, going to take a loooong time to get used to the name change. Anyhoo, this is another close call. On the one hand, the company seemed to come out of its earnings nicely, beating revenue and profit expectations. It briefly grabbed the “most valuable company” crown from Apple. But since its earnings, Alphabet’s stock price has plunged from $764.65 to $683.11. And its time on top lasted only one day, as Apple took the crown right back. Though Google’s head of search has decided to leave, it’s not entirely clear what other factors are driving Google’s stock down. Is the decline reflective of a change in sentiment about Google or part of the broader tech battering? There are ongoing concerns about the shift to mobile ads and all those money-losing longterm bets that Alphabet is making.
5. Microsoft (MSFT) : Final proof that the world has turned upside down? Microsoft actually reported a slight dip in revenue for the quarter. But its cloud business was up nicely, and that’s what investors have decided matters. So not only did it get a nice stock bump of 8 percent right after earnings, but its stock has held up better than many other tech stocks amid the broader souring mood of investors.