When three companies with a combined market capitalization of more than $2 trillion report earnings on the same day, investors can't help but pay attention. So they had plenty to pore over after the stock market closed on Thursday, when tech giants Apple (AAPL), Amazon (AMZN) and Google parent Alphabet (GOOGL) all reported their latest earnings, for the quarter ending Dec. 31, 2017.
Apple's iPhone sales slip, but revenues climb
Perhaps most highly anticipated were the results from Apple, given the introduction of its new iPhone lineup, particularly the $1,000 flagship model iPhone X. This report would show how the new smartphones performed during the key holiday selling season.
The short answer: iPhone sales unit sales were down compared to fourth-quarter 2016, but revenues for the devices were up, thanks to their higher selling prices.
Overall, Apple's report was strong, showing a fiscal first-quarter profit of $20.07 billion. On a per-share basis, the Cupertino, California-based company said it had net income of $3.89.
The results surpassed Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of nine analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of $3.82 per share.
The maker of iPhones, iPads and other products posted revenue of $88.29 billion in the period, also topping Street forecasts. Six analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $86.29 billion.
However, Apple's forward guidance was disappointing, hinting at possible problems for the iPhones' momentum in 2018. For the current quarter ending in April, Apple said it expects revenue in the range of $60 billion to $62 billion. That's well below what analysts surveyed by Zacks had expected, which was revenue of $65.44 billion.
Taken together, the results didn't do much to kindle investors' enthusiasm, with the shares at first shedding around 1 percent and then coming back near even as after-hours trading continued on Thursday.
Amazon blasts past Wall Street estimates
Amazon ended regular hours trading down 4.2 percent, or $60.89, to close at $1,390. But they gained all that back -- and then some -- after reporting results that beat expectations for both income and revenue.
The e-commerce juggernaut had fourth-quarter net income of $1.86 billion and a profit of $3.75 per share. Adjusted for pretax gains, that profit came to $2.16 per share.
The results exceeded Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of 14 analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of $1.85 per share.
The online retailer posted revenue of $60.45 billion in the period, also surpassing Street forecasts. Thirteen analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $59.99 billion. Amazon said its sales of Alexa-powered Echos "far exceeded" expectations. And its Amazon Web Services unit, which provide cloud computing, showed a strong jump in revenues of $5.1 billion versus $3.5 billion in fourth-quarter 2016.
For the current quarter ending in April, Amazon said it expects revenue in the range of $47.75 billion to $50.75 billion. Analysts surveyed by Zacks had expected revenue of $48.95 billion.
"Amazon generated another blockbuster quarter on the revenue side," said Moody's analyst Charlie O'Shea in a statement. "Retail growth in North America was around 25 percent for the quarter excluding Whole Foods, which was well above our 20 percent threshold for a solid quarter, and even extracting Whole Foods, there was solid margin improvement."
Amazon shares were up 6 percent in after-hours trading on Thursday, climbing $83 to $1,473.
Google slammed by $10 billion tax hit
Google parent Alphabet went the other way. It's stock, which closed regular trading on Thursday near unchanged, took an immediate 4.3 percent hit ($49.60) to drop to $1,133 after its results came up short of expectations, thanks to a $10 billion tax hit from the new law. A while later, the loss has trimmed back to around 2.6 percent.
For the fourth quarter, Google reported a loss of $3 billion, or $4.35 a share, versus income of $5.33 billion, or $7.56 a share, a year ago. Revenue climbed to $32.3 billion versus $26 billion in last year's fourth quarter. After subtracting Alphabet's advertising commissions, revenue was $25.87 billion, exceeding Street forecasts. Twelve analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $25.65 billion.
The Mountain View, California-based company said earnings, adjusted for pretax expenses, came to $9.70 per share. Still, that missed Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of 14 analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of $10.12 per share.