S&P 500 Breaks Winning Streak, but Apple and Amazon Are Big Winners

The three things you need to know for April 24.

Apr 23, 2014 at 11:00PM

The S&P 500's six-session winning streak was snapped and the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) dipped 13 points after a bad case of housing data on Wednesday.

1. Huge iPhone sales boost Apple earnings
Apple
 (NASDAQ:AAPL) is officially a phone company, as it reported $10.2 billion profits for the first quarter of 2014 mostly on iPhone sales. Profits and revenues were up from last year, but total iPhone sales killed analyst estimates, growing to 43.7 million from 37.4 million last year. The downside was the iPad and the ol' iPod -- sales dropped 16% for the former and another 51% for the latter (but everyone's asking -- who bought 2.8 million iPods in the quarter?).

Is Apple's business in decline? No way. Programmers are working on having Siri kick you in the groin in response to that question. The iPhone just became available to China Mobile, China's largest carrier, earlier this year, and sales were up 28% in the country with the most people.

It was a blitz of news packed into Apple's press release. To spoil shareholders with more Apple cash, the company is increasing its buyback of shares to $90 billion from $60 billion, and it's increasing the quarterly dividend to each shareholder to $3.29 per quarter. Finally, Apple is doing the splits. Seven-to-one, to be exact (Apple's not playing Twister). The share price is too big, so on June 2, every shareholder will get six new shares for every one existing, but they will be worth one-seventh the amount.

Get ready for the pop that will hit Apple stock tomorrow morning. Trading of the stock is up 8% since the markets officially closed at 4 p.m ET. Also get ready for a bigger-screened iPhone and a better TV product. Maybe an iWatch too (or another iSurprise). This huge quarter should keep the haters at bay for a while and let Tim Cook finally try to make his mark on the company with a new product.

2. Netflix drops big after major HBO-Amazon deal
The deal of the day goes to Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN), which inked HBO to a licensing agreement that has us pumped to watch The Wire and order a case of jumbo-size Skippy peanut butter simultaneously. Under the agreement, HBO's first with an online video provider, the company will offer older programming to Amazon Prime's video-streaming service.

That's great news for Sopranos fans and God-awful news for Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) shareholders. Just after the company reported solid earnings that sent the stock up 7% earlier this week, shares of Netflix dropped over 5% Wednesday on word that HBO had given its flower to Amazon.

The takeaway is that things are starting to heat up between Netflix and Amazon worthy of an HBO drama. For Amazon "Primers," these older shows will now be available to stream without an additional fee. And since Netflix just made clear that it's increasing prices for new members by at least $1 per month, Prime might end up being the cheaper option.

3. New home sales surprisingly drop 14.5%
Don't raise the roof, because sales of new homes nationwide were so bad last month, we want to watch reruns of MTV's Cribs just to feel better. The Commerce Department reported Wednesday that new home sales fell 14% in March to reach an annual rate of 384,000 sales, their lowest level in eight months -- economists had been expecting the sales rate to rise 2.3%.

It ain't just winter weather that kept away homebuyers. Interest rates have been kept super low by the Federal Reserve's stimulus policies for years now to encourage economic growth -- but the improving economy over 2013 has seen the Fed scale back its stimulus plans, helping banks' interest rates inch up a tad this winter. And even barely higher interest rates have discouraged some buyers from taking out loans (aka mortgages) to buy Cribs-worthy palaces.

Thursday:
  • Weekly jobless claims
  • First-quarter earnings: Starbucks, Amazon.com, JetBlue

MarketSnacks Fact of the Day: In Norway, electric cars are exempt from tolls, can ride in bus lanes, and get to park and charge for free.

As originally published on MarketSnacks.com

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