The search giant's profit increased by nearly 7% in the final quarter of 2012, as the company stemmed a slide in ad revenue.
This week, technology companies take their turn in the spotlight. And for some of them -- notably former market superstar Apple (AAPL) -- that's proving to be a most uncomfortable place to be.
The technology universe offers a muddled outlook, and that may be why the Nasdaq Composite Index ($COMPX) has lagged in recent weeks as other major market indicators have either set new highs -- the Russell 2000 Index ($RUT) -- or broken above technical barriers and into territory not seen in months -- the Standard & Poor's 500 Index ($INX). For the year, the Nasdaq is up about 4.5%, while the S&P 500 has risen closer to 5% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average ($INDU) has climbed 5.1%.
Apple's hardware is great, and its well-tended operating system is beautiful. But behind the garden walls are bars that restrict your choices in all kinds of ways.
If you don't like personal stories about infidelity, please read no further.
After being in love with my iPhone for several years now, my attentions are increasingly being pulled elsewhere -- and I'm not fighting it. I've been an iPhone fan since I first got my hands on one: It instantly made my BlackBerry feel like an ugly brick that was designed by orangutans.
All I wanted to do was hold my iPhone forever, and that's almost exactly what I've done since I first got one -- until I switched to using an Android phone over the holidays.
I didn't decide to try an Android phone because I was dissatisfied with Apple (AAPL) or the iPhone. I still think the iPhone is one of the best-designed, most appealing products I've ever used. I have a MacBook Air and an iPad that I also love using, and I recommend them whenever I get the chance.
But I will confess that I have been looking enviously at Android phones after seeing friends using them and even more after borrowing one last fall for a trip to Amsterdam.
The tech pioneer's push into new markets and its tendency to be tight-lipped about its plans make it exceptionally hard to read.
Apple (AAPL) is expected to report record iPhone sales and revenue today when it releases its earnings for the holiday period.
But it isn't current sales that Wall Street has focused on as Apple's stock has swooned recently. It is that the Cupertino, Calif., company's future is getting harder to read.
Apple's push into new markets and its complex supply chain are making its growth prospects difficult to understand and predict, say longtime investors and analysts. The company missed analysts' estimates the past two quarters.
Firsthand experience suggests the site is an effective advertising platform. If a promotion doesn't cut through the clutter, whose fault is that?
There's no better case study in the tendency to blame external forces for our mistakes and shortcomings than the dysfunctional relationship between large swaths of the public and Facebook (FB).
We've got endless examples:
- You're a retail investor who chased Facebook's IPO because you have a page on the site. The stock tumbled and you blamed everybody except the person who hit "buy." (While foreseeing long-term success, I recommended resisting the hype surrounding the IPO. That's almost always good advice.)
- You're Mark Cuban, a wildly successful and otherwise brilliant man, yet you dog Facebook for structuring its advertising like TV and radio. Pay more as the size of the audience you reach increases? What a novel idea.
Paul Otellini has accomplished much at the chip maker. But as he prepares to step down, those gains are offset by the absence of a credible product in the mobile device market.
On Jan. 17, Intel (INTC) delivered a batch of fourth-quarter financial results that were to be expected. Its sales fell to $13.5 billion, from $13.9 billion, as -- guess what? -- people bought fewer PCs than during the same period last year.
Take 2012 as a whole and Intel posted revenue of $53.3 billion, down from $54 billion.
The big takeaway is that Intel produces one hell of a whimper. The chip maker's sales have fallen, as have its net income and margins. But the company still sells an incredible amount of silicon, and chalked up $18.9 billion in cash from operations last year. Many companies would kill to have Intel’s problems.
It now looks as if Chief Executive Officer Paul Otellini’s career will end as the company continues on its current trajectory. Intel has forecast that sales in the current quarter will likely come in below expectations -- a sour note before he retires, as previously announced, in May.
The singular failure
Otellini was tapped as CEO in 2005 and has survived years of great tumult. He battled antitrust regulators in Europe and the United States over issues pertaining to rival Advanced Micro Devices (AMD). He managed to fix Intel’s server chip business after it had fallen behind AMD’s -- a move that has left AMD near collapse and Intel making huge profits in the data center. And he turned Intel into a true software powerhouse through a series of acquisitions and high-profile hires.
(He also bought McAfee for $7.6 billion, a deal that someone, someday may be able to explain.)
What Otellini did not do was deliver a credible product in the mobile device market in anything resembling a timely fashion. The singular failure has undermined most of the company’s successes during his tenure as chief executive.
This is why his dramatic wins feel so neutered.
Intel is due to name Otellini’s successor any day now. The next CEO will at least have a fighting chance to play off some of the company’s investments and come out looking clever and exceptional.
The low-power chips now arriving from Intel appear competitive with the ARM-based designs from Qualcomm (QCOM), Nvidia (NVDA) and others, meaning that Intel is finally in the running for smartphone and tablet wins.
Intel has also started flirting with the idea of becoming a contracting chip maker able to compete with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing (TSM), Samsung and Global Foundries.
It puzzles me that Otellini decided to step down before seeing these bets through to their conclusions. His legacy, as it stands, will end up closer to ho-hum than spectacular.
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[BRIEFING.COM] The major averages punctuated a solid week with a subdued Friday session. The S&P 500 shed 0.2% to narrow its weekly gain to 1.7%, while the Nasdaq Composite (+0.1%) displayed relative strength. The tech-heavy index finished the week in line with the benchmark average.
Market participants went into today's session expecting to hear some new insight from Fed Chair Janet Yellen, who delivered the keynote address at this year's Jackson Hole Symposium. Unfortunately, the ... More
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