Amazon announced the company’s fourth quarter results last week, which fell short of Wall Street’s estimates. The company reported $17.4 billion in revenue, with net sales up 35% from $12.95 billion in the same quarter of 2010. Despite falling short of analyst estimates of $18.26 billion, Amazon’s growth was more than twice the overall market’s growth according to data from comScore. At $49.6 million, U.S. retail spending was only up 14% in the fourth quarter of 2011. “The growth rate represented the ninth consecutive quarter of positive year-over-year growth and fifth consecutive quarter of double-digit growth rates,” said the company’s press release. “For the entire 2011 year, U.S. retail e-commerce spending reached a record $161.5 billion, marking a 13-percent increase from 2010.” Read on for comScore’s full press release. More →
Apple took the wraps off of the iPhone 4S today but its stock price dipped by as much as 5% as investors looked to the Cupertino-based company to release a more impressive next-generation smartphone. Fifteen months after last updating its iPhone, investors wanted to see an all new design but instead were met with an incremental update in a case identical to the iPhone 4. It offers a dual-core Apple A5 processor, an improved 8-megapixel camera capable of recording 1080p HD video and Apple’s new voice-based Siri technology, but the iPhone 4S does not offer a completely revamped industrial design, as many had suspected. The iPhone 4S will launch on October 14th and Sprint will join AT&T and Verizon Wireless in offering the phone. Apple’s stock closed down 0.56% on Tuesday.
Apple on Tuesday reported earnings for the third quarter of fiscal 2011. Shares of Apple Tuesday were trading at near-record levels as investors expected Apple to post its biggest June quarterly earnings ever, and the company didn’t disappoint. Wall Street was predicting revenue of $24.92b, a whopping 58% YoY increase, and Apple’s revenue for the June quarter came in at a mind-blowing $28.57b. Analysts predicted 16.5 million iPhones, 4.2 million Macs, and 7.8 million iPads with actual sales coming in at 20.34m iPhones, 9.25m iPads, and 3.95m Macs. Press release is after the break:
Ahead of Apple’s third-quarter earnings report on July 19th, Fortune has tapped 39 analysts and has created a roundup of their iPad sales estimates. We already know that the iPad 2 has been flying off of store shelves since Apple announced the tablet on March 2nd. However, demand was so great that it’s unclear just how many Apple was able to manufacture and sell during the third quarter. Brian Marshall from Gleacher, Daniel Ernst from Hudson Square, and Mark McKechnie from Think Equity all estimate that Apple sold 6 million iPads during the quarter. That’s at the low-end of the analyst’s predictions. Amateur analyst Navin Nagrani suggested that the Cupertino-based firm sold 9.5 million iPads, but that’s still short of the 14 million iPad units sold that CLSA predicted last month. The average estimate of 7.92 million iPads sold is on a par with the Wall Street prediction of 7.72 million units, a 142% jump from the third quarter of 2010. Who’s right and who’s wrong? We’ll find out next Tuesday. More →
Former executive at Apple supplier Flextronics Walter Shimoon pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of security fraud in a Manhattan court on Tuesday. The charges stem from a crackdown on “expert networks,” which make money by connecting hedge funds and financial institutions with industry insiders such as Shimoon. The practice, which had gone widely unmonitored for years, is now said to be under the Securities and Exchange Commission’s microscope. Shimoon was arrested late last year and accused of leaking insider iPhone and iPod sales figures in the third and fourth quarters of 2009. He also leaked details surrounding the iPhone 3GS, which was unreleased at the time, and the still unannounced iPad. Shimoon is scheduled to be sentenced in July 2013 according to The New York Times. More →
On Thursday, Groupon — the popular location-based coupon service — filed for an initial public offering with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The start-up, which alerts 83 million email subscribers in 43 different countries of local deals that range from restaurant discounts to sailing lessons, hopes to raise $750 million in its IPO. “Expect us to make ambitious bets on our future that distract us from our current business,” Andrew Mason, Groupon’s chief executive officer, said in a statement. “Some bets we’ll get right, and others we’ll get wrong, but we think it’s the only way to continuously build disruptive products,” Mason added. Groupon launched in November, 2007, has more than 7,000 employees, and reported $645 million in revenues during Q1 2011. Hit the break for a letter from Mason that was included with the company’s filing. More →
Some analysts could soon find themselves in hot water as the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has opened an investigation into the legality of “channel checks.” Channel checks refer to the practice whereby analysts contact inside sources at manufacturing companies in order to glean inside information. This information often has a tendency to move the market, of course, but the SEC is now trying to determine whether or not the practice should be legal. “Insider trading basically comes down to where you know or ought to know that the person from whom you’re getting this information has a duty to someone else to keep it confidential,” former SEC commissioner Paul Atkins told The Wall Street Journal. “If you go in and pay the mail clerk to give you special information, that’s not proper.” Beyond just the analysts involved, the SEC is also investigating “expert networks,” which get paid to connect investors with inside sources. More →
The New York Times is reporting that streaming video site hulu.com is in talks with investment banks to go public as soon as this fall. The Times cites “people briefed on the matter,” and goes on to say that the IPO could “value the company at more than $2 billion.” Hulu is a joint venture of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, the Walt Disney Company, NBC Universal, and a private equity firm. A recent change in comScore’s reporting methodology caused Hulu’s monthly viewership numbers to drop from 43.5 million in May to 24 million in June. Things aren’t all bad for the video service though; comScore did register that Hulu served up 556 million ads in June of this year, which outpaces all other video sites including YouTube. What do you think? If Hulu went public would you buy? Just another dot com destined for failure on Wall Street? More →
Analysts are contributing in tandem to the rumor mill today by proclaiming the inevitability of a Verizon Wireless-branded iPhone. First is Ben Reitzes of Barclays Capital, who says a Verizon Wireless iPhone could enter production in Q4 2010 and land in the first calendar quarter of 2011. Reitzes estimates that Verizon could sell as many as 9 million iPhones next year and anticipates a market in Asia for this CDMA variant of the iPhone 4. Not alone in the latest chapter of this seeming endless rumor, Bank of America/Merrill Lynch analyst Scott Craig points to the success of the iPhone in unlocked markets as an important factor in bringing Apple and Verizon Wireless together at last. With the iPhone on the nation’s largest carrier, Craig predicts Apple could sell an additional 8 million handsets in FY 2011. So what do you think — will the allure of selling an additional 8-9 million handsets be enough to finally make Apple and Verizon Wireless work together to make the CDMA iPhone a reality?
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That dude pictured above doesn’t look too happy, and who can blame him? He’s probably a tech geek, if not a Blackberry user who is sharing the worries and woes of the mobile telecommunications industry, which is heavily affected by the current economic downturn. With several banks and financial institutions being bailed out by the U.S. government, how can it not trickle down to the phone manufacturers and carriers? RIM is going to be a huge one since a big chunk of its market are the business types, and the fact that its success also depends largely on the success of Wall Street. The worst case scenario is they lose up to 40,000 subscribers — never a pretty thing. It seems tough enough for the mobile market to continue the success its seen over the past few years, but a failing economy could spell disaster. Products are being delayed, funding for R&D will likely be tight, and advertising will eventually have to suffer. Right now, the carriers have to focus on the smartphone market where they not only make a penny or two off high-end devices, but earn sustainable profits from data packages. This can almost never be good for the consumer, but I guess we’ve all gotta pay our share to keep our obsessions afloat.
Handset sales are predicted to go up 10% this year, but the majority of that will likely be from cheaper phones. Established names have struggled and, in Western Europe, sales have declined tremendously for the first half of ’08. Nokia, for example, has had a difficult time selling its high-end devices like the E-Series devices. RIM’s co-chief executive Jim Balsille says no one will ever abandon their handsets, and that’s true once you’ve grown dependent on them, but people will start making sacrifices here and there where they can, and that could hurt us all. With banks failing, the economy spoiling, and gas prices fluctuating between ridiculously high and an arm and a leg and a kidney, will you start holding off on buying those new, shiny, and pricey gadgets?