How Apple Failed Me This Week

Welcome to Week 30 of the Big Idea Portfolio. This week, Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) took a beating after failing to meet Wall Street's expectations for fiscal third-quarter results. More of what's going on in my portfolio, and more tech stock news, in a minute. First, let's dig into the numbers:

Company

Starting Price*

Recent Price

Total Return

Apple $422.46 $585.16 38.5%
Google $650.09 $634.96 (2.3%)
Rackspace Hosting $41.65 $44.77 7.5%
Riverbed Technology (Nasdaq: RVBD  ) $25.95 $18.34 (29.3%)
Salesforce.com $100.93 $131.49 30.3%
AVERAGE RETURN -- -- 8.94%
S&P 500 SPDR $126.50** $138.68 9.63%
DIFFERENCE -- -- (0.69)

Source: Yahoo! Finance.
* Tracking began at market close on Jan. 6, 2012.
** Adjusted for dividends and other returns of capital.

The week that was
Tech may be a mixed bag, but as a group, stocks rallied for the second consecutive week. Each of the major indexes rose, but it was the Dow that climbed 1.97% to close above 13,000 for the first time since May. The S&P 500 also finished strong with a 1.71% gain while the Nasdaq closed up 1.12%. Only the small-cap Russell 2000 failed to gain at least 1%, closing up just 0.56% for the week, CNBC reports.

Good economic news appears to be catalyst. Well, OK, "good" is a relative term here. The latest data pegs growth in Gross Domestic Product, a rough gauge of the overall economy, at just 1.5% annualized through the second quarter. That may be too slow a pace to put the unemployed back to work.

And that, ironically, had some investors cheering Friday. Reuters reports that the GDP report has kicked off speculation that central bankers here and In Europe will administer another round of stimulus to bolster the euro and reignite growth in several world markets.

Tech poppers and floppers
History says to be wary of too much stimulus -- especially when there aren't strings attached -- but you won't catch tech investors complaining if a new round of cash flows into the economy. Far too many big names have reported far too little in the way of profits.

Take Apple, for example. The Mac maker booked $9.32 a share of profit on $35.02 billion in revenue in fiscal Q3. By contrast, analysts were hoping for $10.36 and $37.18 billion, respectively. Investors, too, were hoping for more, with the stock selling off more than 4% over the past five trading days. The drop kept my portfolio from matching Mr. Market's return in our three-year contest to see who's the better investor.

Facebook (Nasdaq: FB  ) flopped even worse. In its first-ever quarterly report as a public company, the social network failed to book any additional profit despite growing revenue 32% year over year. Average revenue per user, a key metric that describes how well Facebook is monetizing its user base, also barely budged in Q2, improving by just $0.02 annually to $1.28, while free cash flow ran negative. A heavy emphasis on infrastructure investments could take a toll on Facebook's financials for a while.

Count Riverbed Technology and salesforce.com peer NetSuite (NYSE: N  ) among the few bright spots this week. As chief rival Cisco (Nasdaq: CSCO  ) announced plans to lay off some 1,300 staff, Riverbed broke a streak of misses with a blowout second-quarter report and strong third-quarter guidance, leading to a 31% pop in the stock. NetSuite also bested targets as earnings per share tripled, leading to an 18% rally in the share price.

Did your stocks come up short? Did they beat the Street? How so, and what's your next move? Use the comments box below to explain your thinking.

And see you back here next weekend for more tech-stock talk. In the meantime, keep track of all the Mac maker's moves and their impact on investors with this special report outlining the risks and opportunities facing the business. It comes with a full year of free updates -- and it's 100% free to boot. Get your copy now, and don't forget to add the Big Idea portfolio stocks to your Foolish Watchlist for ongoing, up-to-the-minute coverage. Both the report and the Watchlist as 100% free to Fools:

Fool contributor Tim Beyers is a member of the Motley Fool Rule Breakers stock-picking team and the Motley Fool Supernova Odyssey I mission. He owned shares of Apple, Google, Rackspace Hosting, Riverbed Technology, and Salesforce.com at the time of publication. Check out Tim's Web home, portfolio holdings, and Foolish writings, or connect with him on Google+ or Twitter, where he goes by @milehighfool. You can also get his insights delivered directly to your RSS reader.

The Motley Fool owns shares of Riverbed Technology, Apple, Google, salesforce.com, Facebook, and Cisco Systems. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Google, NetSuite, Apple, Facebook, Riverbed Technology, Rackspace Hosting, and salesforce.com, creating a bear put spread position in salesforce.com, and creating a bull call spread position in Apple. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


Read/Post Comments (2) | Recommend This Article (1)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On July 30, 2012, at 12:44 AM, Secs27 wrote:

    Are You insane? Apple posts a 28 % increase in revenue coupled with 8.8 billion in profit and it failed according to you. You should be committed to the nut house. On top of stellar earnings, these earnings are being compared to a record quarter last year. Apple posted aa 28 % quality growth rate on top of a monster quarter and you claimed it failed. There is no other company producing these kinds of returns while producing incredible Igh end products.

    A company like amazon producing low end subpar crappy products reports a 96% plunge in profits, a slowing growth rate and the same old song and dance for the last ten years about this Weill pay off and it rallies 16 points because hedge funds and Bezos are in bed together.

    It's people like you with your minuscule mentality that contribute to false perpatuations.

  • Report this Comment On July 30, 2012, at 10:29 AM, SaraW946 wrote:

    Couldn't have put it better myself! I was particularly floored when I read the word "failed" in connection with Apple. Granted, Apple will not go on posting such tremendous growth for ever, but you can hardly call it a failure!

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