With April Fool's Day squarely in the rearview mirror, it's time to start gearing up for the onslaught of financial releases as companies post results for the just-ended quarter. Among those finalizing their numbers in the coming weeks are three of the five companies that make up the vaunted FAANG acronym -- Facebook (META -0.37%), Apple (AAPL -1.87%), and Netflix (NFLX 0.43%). Each of these stocks has stormed out of the gate in 2019, gaining 34%, 24%, and 37%, respectively, since the first of the year.
With those early gains as a backdrop, each company will have a lot to prove, so investors will be keeping a close eye on the results. Let's take a look at what might move the numbers for each of the tech giants.
Social media purveyor Facebook is scheduled to report its first-quarter results after the market close on Wednesday, April 24. In addition to the usual revenue and earnings-per-share metrics, slowing user growth has been a hot topic in recent reports. Investors will be watching carefully to see if monthly and daily active users -- both up 9% year over year in the fourth quarter -- can maintain that pace of growth.
Late last year, Facebook introduced a new "family" metric that indicates how many people used at least one of the company's four applications -- Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, or WhatsApp -- in a given period, helping to eliminate duplication. For December, 2.7 billion people used at least one of the four apps.
Year-over-year revenue growth slowed to 30% in the fourth quarter, and that number is expected continue its downward trajectory throughout the year. Unfortunately, this is happening just as Facebook is ramping up spending on its infrastructure, as well as safety and security. The company is expecting expenses to increase between 40% and 50% compared to last year.
The iPhone maker is scheduled to report is second-quarter results after the market close on Tuesday, April 30. The company handed investors a lump of coal for the holiday quarter, with sales that declined 5% year over year and down 3% excluding changes in currency. That wasn't as bad as originally feared, though the falloff was highlighted by a 15% drop in iPhone sales, with the greatest pain occurring in Greater China. At the time, Apple CEO Tim Cook said that the second-worst GDP growth in China over the past 25 years was the culprit.
Investors will be watching for an anticipated uptick in services revenue, which Apple is increasingly counting on to spur growth. In the first quarter, services produced $10.87 billion, up 28% year over year, and generating nearly 15% of the company's sales. Last week, Apple introduced a host of new offerings under its services banner in an effort to boost its recurring revenue.
Apple is forecasting revenue of $57 billion, a dip of nearly 7% at the midpoint of its guidance. Considering the big trouble in Greater China, that isn't terribly unexpected.
It shouldn't be a surprise that all eyes will be on subscriber numbers when Netflix reports its first-quarter results after the market close on Tuesday, April 16. The company added nearly 9 million new members last quarter, topping 139 million paying subscribers. Those customers will soon be more lucrative, as the price hike Netflix announced earlier this year will soon take effect for existing subscribers, potentially increasing revenue by more than $1 billion annually.
The additional revenue will surely help boost the company's slowing cash burn. Free cash flow last year slowed to -$3.02 billion, at the low end of the -$3 billion to -$4 billion range Netflix anticipated, and that number is expected to be roughly the same in 2019, before improving every year thereafter. The price hike will also help boost operating margins, which Netflix expects at 9% for the first quarter, and top 13% for 2019, up from 10% last year.
For the first quarter, Netflix is forecasting a subscriber count of more than 149 million and record revenue of $4.494 billion, leading to diluted earnings per share of $0.56.