Underwhelming quarterly earnings numbers and rising tensions between Ukraine and Russia sent stocks spiraling lower on Friday. High-growth stocks in the Nasdaq Composite Index bore the brunt of the pain, as investors fled to safer investments like utilities and treasuries. Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN), Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX), and Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) each finished toward the bottom of the S&P 500 Index (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) today. The S&P 500 itself fell 15 points, or 0.8%, to end at 1,863.
Amazon.com finished as the most miserable performer in the entire index, plunging 9.9%, even after beating both sales and income expectations in the most recent quarter. It seems ridiculous to punish a stock for topping Wall Street estimates, and indeed, that logic would be absurd. The truth is that investors are worried about Amazon's compulsion to spend endlessly on expanding its business; the e-commerce giant actually projected an operating loss in the second quarter as it ramps up spending on its Fire TV set-top box and logistics services.
Another Nasdaq component and household-name momentum stock, Netflix, shed 6.4% today. Like Amazon, Netflix is generously valued, trading at 174 times earnings. Amazon, in all its ambition and without regard to its profit margins, is aggressively expanding into Netflix's video-streaming business, as this week's unprecedented deal with HBO plainly reveals. While this deal looks like a direct threat to Netflix on the surface, my colleague Sam Mattera makes the compelling argument that Netflix and Amazon Prime are becoming so differentiated that they function as complementary services every true cord-cutter should have.
Finally, Facebook also ended as a victim of the high-growth sell-off Friday. Shares fell 5.2%, just a day after the social media behemoth reported a blowout quarter. Revenue in the first quarter rocketed 72% higher to $2.5 billion, while earnings per share in the period nearly tripled from $0.12 to $0.34. Though both results easily topped expectations, Wall Street was unimpressed with the monetization of some of Facebook's more recent acquisitions, i.e. Instagram. I'm afraid investors should get used to Facebook's recent ambitious acquisitions not paying for themselves immediately; while Instagram cost a cool $1 billion, the $19 billion WhatsApp acquisition probably won't turn profitable anytime soon.
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