As we approach the end of the first quarter of 2013, we’re starting to get an idea of how companies are positioned for the remainder of the year. One of the biggest themes has been revenue and a company’s ability to generate it. Analysts and investors are looking at top-line numbers to determine the true health of a business. In many cases, companies struggled to meet revenue expectations in recent quarters and stock values paid the price.
This was very evident in the tech sector as some of the highest profile companies issued surprising results and guidance. Each of them came away with some questions for the future and that could put downward pressure on their stock prices.
Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)
The maker of the iPhone and iPad is already in correction territory. It peaked at just over $700, but now is hovering around the $450 mark.
Surprisingly, Apple guided downward for 2013, calling for revenue of about $52 billion, which is far below the original $55 billion estimate. Production and development costs related to the iPhone 5 and iPad Mini are hitting the bottom line, and that could consolidate operating margins. Product demand remained strong throughout the holiday season, but the company will need to show that its rise in costs is just an aberration before it can move back up again.
Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG)
The big question that the internet search giant has to answer is whether or not revenue growth is genuinely slowing down. Revenue, income and earnings numbers all missed recently and the company was quick to blame a larger-than-expected loss related to the acquisition of Motorola Mobility for the results.
But, it may be their advertising machine that’s more to blame. Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) has had trouble capitalizing on the broad movement to mobile devices and they’ll be under pressure to show they can monetize that platform.
Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB)
Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) has been presented with the same problem as Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) – how to effectively monetize mobile. They’re one of the few tech companies that has had some legitimately encouraging earnings news. Their mobile numbers appear to be improving but they’ve got a long way to go to make it a significant part of their bottom line.
Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) needs to figure out the mobile problem more than anybody because, unlike Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG), there’s only so much space within which they can squeeze advertisements on a mobile version of the site without significantly affecting the user’s experience.
Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT)
Microsoft is facing a slightly different problem than the rest of the companies on the list. Right now, they’re fighting to remain relevant in a rapidly changing environment. They’ve issued disappointing earnings as consumers continued to move away from desktop and laptop computers, and the company has yet to establish a solid footing in the smartphone and tablet markets.
They dropped Windows 8 on the market, but it’s unclear if that alone will help drive the company to growth. They’re hoping that the Windows Phone 8 operating system is a success, but that’s a tall order when you have to compete with Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android. Microsoft’s Surface tablet has a similar mountain to climb against the iPad.
In other words, Microsoft doesn’t just face short-term issues; it could soon be fighting to exist at all in the new technology sector.
Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN)
The internet retailer is a curious story. It has reported several revenue and earnings misses recently, but the stock has continued up on optimism that the company’s operating loss was lower than expected. It continues to trade in short-term profitability for long-term corporate growth, but investors seem willing to wait it out and pay a premium price for the stock.
Amazon’s biggest issue is its valuation, which remains at unsustainable levels. There’s essentially no room for error considering how richly the stock is priced, and any bad news could result in a swift downward path. Most of Amazon’s valuation metrics harken back to the technology bubble of 2000 and we all know how that turned out.