Tech stocks on display on the Nasdaq.
Peter Kramer | cnbc
nasdaq ended its fifth straight week of gains, jumping 3.3% over the past five days. This is the longest weekly winning streak for the tech-laden index since a stretch that ended in November 2021. After its worst year since 2008, the Nasdaq is up 15% to start 2023.
The last time tech stocks enjoyed this long rally, investors were gearing up for the electric car maker Rivian’s Blockbuster IPOs, the US economy was closing out its strongest year for growth since 1984, and the Nasdaq was trading at a record.
This time, there’s very little champagne popping. Cost-cutting has replaced growth on Wall Street’s checklist, and tech executives are being celebrated for efficiency over innovation. The IPO market is dead. Layoffs are plentiful.
Earnings reports were the story of the week, with results coming from many of the world’s most valuable tech companies. But the numbers weren’t good, for the most part.
Apple Missed estimate for the first time since 2016, Facebook parent meta Posted a third straight quarter of declining revenue, Googlehas shrunk its core advertising business, and Amazon closed out its weakest year for growth in its 25-year history as a public company.
While investors had mixed reactions to the individual reports, all four stocks ended the week with solid gains, as did MicrosoftWhich reported earnings the prior week and issued weak guidance forecasting roughly 3% revenue growth for the quarter.
cost control is king
Meta was the top performer among the group this week, with the stock rising 23%, its third best week ever. In its earnings report on Wednesday, revenue came in slightly above estimates, even as sales were down year over year, and first-quarter forecasts were broadly in line with expectations.
Key to the rally was CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s announcement in the earnings statement that 2023 will be “the year of efficiency” and his promise that “we are focused on becoming a stronger and more agile organization.”
“That really was a game changer,” Stephanie Link, chief investment strategist at Hightower Advisors, said in an interview with CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Friday.
“The quarter itself was fine, but it was the cost-cutting that finally got them religion, and that’s why I think the meta really took off,” he said.
Zuckerberg acknowledged that times are changing. From the year of its IPO in 2012 until 2021, the company grew between 22% and 58% per year. But revenue is down 1% in 2022, according to Refinitiv, and analysts expect only 5% growth in 2023.
On the earnings call, Zuckerberg said he doesn’t expect the decline to continue, “but I also don’t think it’s going to go back to the way it was before.” Meta announced the elimination of 11,000 jobs, or 13% of its workforce, in November.
Link said the reason Meta’s stock took such a big jump after the earnings was because “expectations were so low and the valuation so compelling.” The stock lost nearly two-thirds of its value last year, far more than its mega-cap peers.
Navigating ‘a very difficult environment’
Apple, which slumped 27% last year, rose 6.2% this week despite posting its biggest drop in revenue in seven years. CEO Tim Cook said the results were impacted by a stronger dollar, production issues in China affecting the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max, and the overall macroeconomic environment.
“Apple is navigating what is certainly a very difficult environment,” Dan Flax, an analyst at Neuberger Berman, told “Squawk Box” on Friday. “As we move into the coming months and quarters, we will see a return to growth and the market will begin to discount this. We continue to like the name even as we face these macro challenges.”
Amazon CEO Andy Jassy, who will replace Jeff Bezos in mid-2021, took the unusual step of joining an earnings call with analysts on Thursday after his company issued a weaker-than-expected forecast for the first quarter. In January, Amazon began layoffs that are expected to result in the loss of more than 18,000 jobs.
“This last quarter was the end of my first full year in this role and given some unusual stretches in the economy and our business, I thought this might be a good one to join,” Jesse said on the call.
Managing expenses has become a big topic for Amazon, which expanded rapidly during the pandemic and later admitted it had laid off a lot of people during that period.
“We’re trying really hard to streamline our costs,” Jesse said.
Alphabet is also in downsizing mode. The company announced last month that it was cutting 12,000 jobs. Its revenue shortfall for the fourth quarter included a reduction in advertising spending on YouTube and disappointing sales from weakness in its cloud division as businesses tighten their belts.
Alphabet finance chief Ruth Porat told CNBC’s Deirdre Bossa that the company is meaningfully slowing the pace of hiring in an effort to deliver long-term profitable growth.
Alphabet shares ended the week up 5.4% after giving up some of their gains during Friday’s selloff. The stock is now up 19% for the year.
Ruth Porat, Alphabet CFO, at the WEF on May 23, 2022 in Davos, Switzerland.
Adam Galica | cnbc
Should the Nasdaq continue its uptrend and record a sixth week of gains, it would match the longest rally since the stretch ended in January 2020, just before the COVID pandemic hit the US.
Investors will now turn to the earnings reports of smaller companies. The names they’ll be hearing from next week include pinterest, Robin Hood, Voice And cloud flare,
Another sector in tech that flourished this week was the semiconductor space. Like consumer tech companies, there wasn’t much in the way of growth to excite Wall Street.
amd It beat on sales and profit on Tuesday but guided analysts for a 10% year-over-year decline in revenue for the current quarter. AMD’s primary competitor Intel reported a disastrous quarter last week and forecast a 40% drop in sales for the March quarter.
Still, AMD jumped 14% for the week and Intel jumped nearly 8%. Texas Instruments And NVIDIA There was also a good profit.
The semiconductor industry is dealing with a glut of spare parts at PC and server makers and falling prices for components such as memory and central processors. But after a miserable year in 2022, stocks are rebounding on signs that the Federal Reserve’s rate cuts and easing inflation numbers will give companies a boost later this year.
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