In terms of tech stocks, the third week of December was largely defined by earnings reports from two firms: enterprise software giant Oracle (ORCL 0.36%) and handset maker BlackBerry (BB -2.65%). Search giant Google (GOOG -1.53%) (GOOGL -1.48%) and networking firm Riverbed Technology (RVBD.DL) also sparked headlines.
Oracle surges after earnings beat
Shares of Oracle rose more than 10% on Thursday following an earnings report that was stronger than analysts had anticipated. Under the direction of new co-CEOs Mark Hurd and Safra Catz, Oracle's cloud business appears to be growing at a rapid rate.
In the second quarter, Oracle earned $0.69 per share on revenue of $9.6 billion. Analysts had been expecting the company to post earnings of $0.68 on revenue of $9.5 billion. Although the beat was not particularly significant, it was notable given that Oracle had disappointed in the previous quarter. It was also the first full quarter following founder Larry Ellison's decision to step down from his longtime role as CEO.
Oracle's cloud business appears to be booming, and, according to management, its success is coming at the expense of its competitors, rather than its core, traditional software business. Oracle believes its cloud business will be at a $3 billion annual run rate by the end of next year, putting it on par with its more cloud-focused rivals.
Shares of BlackBerry fell in early trading Friday after the company turned in an earnings report that fell short of analyst expectations.
Although BlackBerry reported an adjusted profit -- CEO John Chen's stated goal -- the company's revenue came in sharply below expectations. In the third quarter, BlackBerry earned $0.01 per share on revenue of $793 million. Analysts had been expecting a loss of $0.05 on revenue of around $936 million. During the quarter, BlackBerry sold around 2 million handsets, bringing its total sales for the year to around 5.7 million. The revenue breakdown for the quarter was roughly 46% for hardware, 46% for services, and 8% for software and other revenue.
BlackBerry's business is in decline, but the company's management team appears to be turning around its finances. In previous quarters, BlackBerry had been losing money and bleeding cash; this quarter, the company was cash flow positive.
Riverbed buyout, Android in the car?
On Monday, Riverbed Technology announced it had agreed to be acquired by private equity firm Thoma Bravo for $3.6 billion, or $21 per share in cash. The sale came after hedge fund Elliot Management bought a large stake in the company last year and began agitating for a sale.
Also of note, on Thursday, Reuters reported that Google was working on a version of Android that would soon power car infotainment systems. The search giant has already announced a forthcoming mobile solution for the car -- Android Auto -- but it requires a paired, Android-powered smartphone to function. This new version of Android would work on a stand-alone basis.
In the near term, Android in the car is unlikely to result in significant gains for Google shareholders, but it could strengthen Google's mobile operating system. Even if a driver owns an iPhone, they could be tempted to use Google's auto solution instead, and, in the process, turn to Google's many services, such as Waze, Maps, and Google Music.