Tech Companies Facing Upcoming Tipping Points When Reporting Earnings

by: Stephen Frankola

Plenty has already been written about F5 Networks' (NASDAQ:FFIV) recent quarterly report and the following market reaction; shares have fallen from above $140 to $105 in just four trading sessions. While F5 was crushed, other internet companies were punished too; Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) fell from above $190 to below $178 before creeping back up to $184, and (NYSE:CRM) has lost over 10% of its value, falling from $140 to below $125. Clearly, some investors were spooked by F5's report.

VMWare (NYSE:VMW) dropped along with F5 last week and is lower again this morning after reporting its own quarterly results yesterday, and shares are changing hands about 4% lower than before yesterday's close. Though VMWare beat expectations in the recently-ended quarter, investors seem concerned over the company's cautious tone on future margin increases,

Netflix, and other companies will become the masters of their own fates as they report their own earnings over the coming days and weeks. Netflix will report on Wednesday after the market closes.'s quarter doesn't end until the end of January, so it will be weeks before investors in CRM will benefit (or be hurt) by the company's own results.

OpenTable (NASDAQ:OPEN), arguably the highest-flier in this category ($1.8b market cap on $25m sales and $4m profit during the most recent quarter) was not dragged down by F5's troubles - shares sit less than 10% below their all-time highs. OpenTable will report results on February 8th. Because of this ultra-rich valuation and lack of recent weakness, OpenTable shares may be the most vulnerable if the company does not please investors.

All of these companies have been darlings of technology investors, and all have performed extremely well, exhibiting incredible growth, over the past few years (or in Netflix's case, the past decade). Despite some recent weakness, these have been the companies that have led the market higher; in just the past year, Netflix shares have tripled. The upcoming quarterly reports can potentially reward believers with data on continued business growth, which would likely send shares even higher. However, each company also risks disappointing investors that have learned to expect stellar results; F5's fall shows just how much pain may result if companies cannot meet expectations.

Disclosure: I am short OPEN.

Additional disclosure: I am not short OPEN shares, but I have purchased a few lottery-ticket puts to due to the possibility of disappointing results.

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Tagged: Earnings
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