The Tech News Blog

November 7, 2013

Twitter Goes Public, Opens Strong

Twitter IPO

Micro-blogging site Twitter is now public. Almost two months after the company filed confidential IPO documents, Twitter users this morning helped ring the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), where Twitter will be listed as TWTR.

"Ring!" the company tweeted from its @Twitter feed at 9:30 a.m. this morning, when the stock market opened here in Manhattan.

Twitter called on Sir Patrick Stewart (@sirpatrickstew), 9-year-old Vivienne Harr (@vivienneharr) and Cheryl Fiandaca (@CherylFiandaca), public information bureau chief with the Boston Police Department, to ring that opening bell since "Twitter owes success to its users," the NYSE tweeted.

The NYSE building this morning was adorned with a huge Twitter banner, the company's familiar bird logo looking down over Wall Street.

February 8, 2013

Apple Signals More Cash for Shareholders

Apple logo

Apple is in the midst of a program to return $45 billion in excess cash to shareholders but signaled Thursday that it is considering returning even more.

The company said in a statement to investors that by next week it will have delivered to shareholders $10 billion of the $45 billion in excess cash Apple pledged last March to return in the form of a dividend and stock repurchase program.

"We find ourselves in the fortunate position of continuing to generate large amounts of cash, including $23 billion in cash flow from operations in the last quarter alone," Apple said, adding that its board and management team were "in active discussions about returning additional cash to shareholders."

When initiated, Apple's current repayment program was expected to take three years, beginning with a quarterly dividend of $2.65 per share that kicked off last July. The $10 billion share repurchase component of the plan started last September.

Apple also clarified an issue regarding the issuance of preferred stock in light of a lawsuit filed this week by hedge fund Greenlight Capital. Greenlight's activist shareholder suit is an effort to require the iPhone maker to dole out more of its cash reserves in the form of "preferred stock with a perpetual 4 percent dividend," according to Reuters.

January 23, 2013

Apple Earnings Worry Investors; Stock Falls 10 Percent

While Apple managed to surpass analysts' profit forecasts for the fiscal 2013 first quarter, the company's stock took a tumble as investors worry over Apple's ability to maintain steady growth with new products.

Apple reported a revenue of $54.5 billion for the quarter ended December 29, 2012, compared to $46.33 billion in the year-ago quarter. The tech giant just missed analyst expectations of $54.73 billion.

Apple also earned a net profit of $13.1 billion ($13.81 a share) compared to $13.1 billion ($13.87 a share) a year ago. Profit clearly remained pretty flat, but it exceeded analysts' expectations of $13.44 a share.

The iDevice maker also noted that it had record iPhone sales for the quarter at 47.8 million (compared to 37 million in the year-ago quarter). It also had an uptick in iPad sales, from 15.4 million in the year ago quarter to 22.9 million in the most recent quarter.

“We’re thrilled with record revenue of over $54 billion and sales of over 75 million iOS devices in a single quarter,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “We’re very confident in our product pipeline as we continue to focus on innovation and making the best products in the world.”

December 28, 2012

Bogus Story Describes Instagram’s Dwindling User Base

Instagram Mobile Photo Pages

A simple change to its Terms of Service has upset the entire Instagram ecosystem but a news report claiming the photo-sharing site lost 25 percent of its daily active users as a result went quite a bit too far.

The New York Post, using stats from AppData, reported that Instagram's active user base had plummeted to just 12.4 million users as of Wednesday—a 4 million-person drop from the Facebook-owned site's peak of 16.4 million users in the week that it rolled out the policy change.

Those numbers, based on AppData's tracking of the usage of Facebook applications, were quickly shown to be off-kilter, since not all users have connected their Instagram and Facebook accounts.

At press time, AppData's website points to Instagram's continuing popularity, listing it as No. 9 among the top iOS apps, and in third place among Android apps. Instagram is also listed as the second most-popular app for Facebook users. On Friday, a 2.9 percent drop in the price of Facebook's stock had the media pointing at the Post's story as the cause.

Instagram denied that its user numbers had dropped.

"We continue to see strong and steady growth in both registered and active users of Instagram," a spokeswoman said in an emailed statement.

August 18, 2012

Apple Stock Price Breaks Records as Facebook Falters


Apple execs admitted during a recent earnings call that sales of the current iPhone were dropping off amidst rumors of the iPhone 5 coming in September. But those rumors don't seem to have affected Cupertino's stock price, which helped the company achieve a valuation that exceeded $600 million today.

Facebook, however, did not fare as well, with its stock price falling to $19.05 for a $40.81 billion valuation.

Apple's stock closed out the day at $648.11 for a valuation of $607.54 billion. Previously it's highest price was $644 on April 10, The Economic Times said.

Back in January, amidst speculation that Facebook was prepping to announce its IPO, Apple was valued at $422.37 billion. Speaking of Facebook, which officially went public in May, Reuters reported that shares of the social network's stock dropped 4.3 percent today "to set a new low."

Apple is reportedly gearing up for the Sept. 12 launch of the next-gen iPhone, and might also take the wraps off a smaller version of its iPad, dubbed the iPad mini. Earlier today, Jefferies analyst Peter Misek said the iPhone 5 debut could be the "biggest handset launch in history."

May 19, 2012

Facebook Barely Claws Past its IPO Price

Facebook's landmark initial public offering opened strongly - but belatedly - then fluttered back down to its IPO price, as other social media stocks sank as well.

Facebook opened the day strongly, although problems with the NASDAQ exchange delayed the first trade until about 11:30 a.m. EDT or so. Facebook's shares promptly climbed to over $42, then sank to just a penny over the opening price of $38. Facebook's stock then tumbled at the end of the day to close at $38.23, a bare 0.61 percent increase over the opening price.

Zynga, whose social games power about 10 percent of Facebook's revenue, also saw its share price decline from an $8.47 opening price to $7.12, down 13.91 percent. Zynga's stock peaked in early March at $14.69. LinkedIn opened at $104.95, peaked around the time that Facebook's stock began trading, then also slipped under $100 to close at $99.11, down 5.56 percent. Pandora Media sank 7.41 percent to close at $9.74.

In all, the NASDAQ closed down 1.24 percent.

"What a disappointing IPO from an increase standpoint," Patrick Moorhead, president and principal analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy, said in an email.

Investors may have been scared away by Facebook's own internal fear factors, as well as the "law of large numbers," the principle that Facebook simply cannot demonstrate strong user growth when the company already counts nearly a billion users among its members. Investors may have also worried about Facebook's ability to gain revenue from its mobile users, from which Facebook has admitted it hasn't been able to derive a material amount of revenue.

May 17, 2012

Facebook Going Public Friday in Largest Tech IPO Ever

It's official: Facebook will go public on Friday, raising just over $16 billion in what will be the largest technology IPO on record.

Facebook said it would price 421,233,615 shares at $38 apiece, raising just over $16.01 billion. The shares will begin selling on Friday under the symbol "FB", as rumored.

The stock will be split up between Facebook, which will sell 180,000,000 shares of Class A common stock, and the existing stockholders, which are offering 241,233,615 shares of Class A common stock. In addition, Facebook and the selling stockholders have granted the underwriters a 30-day option to purchase up to 63,185,042 additional shares of Class A common stock to cover over-allotments, if any. That could conceivably be worth another $2.4 billion.

Google, the second-largest tech IPO on record, raised $1.9 billion in its 2004 IPO.

Of course, the shares are merely an investment, nothing more: Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg will retain the voting rights to a majority of the company's shares, giving him absolute power as far as corporate decisions are concerned. Zuckerberg owns roughly 534 million of those shares, which will give him a net worth of about $20.2 billion, in paper, at the opening of trading tomorrow.

April 5, 2012

Report: Facebook to List Shares on Tech-Friendly Nasdaq Exchange

Facebook has opted to list its shares on the Nasdaq exchange when the company makes its initial public offering in the coming weeks, according to several media sources. The report appears to have originated with a tweet from CNBC on Thursday and was later corroborated by other outlets, including Bloomberg, the New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal.

Facebook has not confirmed any details about its IPO plans beyond the S-1 form and addenda it has filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

In February, Facebook filed for a $5 billion IPO, ending months of speculation that the social networking giant was planning to go public. The company hasn't named a date for its IPO, saying only that it would commence the sale of stock to the public "as soon as practicable," but the latest rumors point to a May date.

Facebook will trade under the ticker symbol "FB" on the Nasdaq, according to reports. The choice of the exchange that's home to such tech giants as Apple and Google wouldn't be much of a surprise to Facebook watchers, though the rival NYSE did recently win the listings of LinkedIn and Pandora, a pair of so-called Web 2.0 companies like Facebook that went public in 2011.

March 19, 2012

Apple Uses Part of Cash Hoard for Dividend, Share Repurchase

Tim Cook iPhone

Apple on Monday announced plans to use part of its "war chest" for a dividend and stock repurchase program.

The program, which will be executed over three years, will utilize about $45 billion of domestic cash.

The company will start a quarterly dividend of $2.65 per share at some point in the fiscal fourth quarter, which begins July 1.

During an early morning conference call, Apple CEO Tim Cook said the move will provide current income to existing shareholders and, hopefully, broaden Apple's investor base by attracting those who don't currently own Apple stock.

A $10 billion share repurchase, meanwhile, will start in fiscal 2013, which starts on Sept. 30. The primary objective, Apple said, is neutralizing the impact of dilution from future employee equity grants and employee stock purchase programs.

March 14, 2012

Can Apple Hit $600? Try $700, Says Wall Street

On the heels of unveiling its shiny new iPad, Apple stock is fast approaching $600 per share. That milestone would be remarkable enough for a company that was trading at under $7 prior to a stock split less than ten years ago, but several Wall Street analysts are now tipping the company to crack the $700 barrier.

Apple, traded on the NASDAQ, closed Wednesday at $589.58, a 3.8 percent gain for the day for a company that's up 46 percent this year. In the past few weeks, at least four analysts have notified clients they believe Apple will gain at least another 19 percent and hit $700 or higher, according to Bloomberg.

Those analysts include Katy Huberty of Morgan Stanley and Canaccord Genuity's Michael Walkley, who told the news agency that he's raised his price target for the company to $710. Bloomberg's most recent survey of a panel of 43 analysts yielded an average price target of $605, but Walkley said many of his peers may not have factored in the likely success of the new iPad, which industry watchers believe will further cement Apple's leadership in the tablet market.