Benner on Tech: Apple's Happy Shareholders and Twitter's Earnings

Katie Benner is a Bloomberg View columnist who writes about technology, innovation, and the cult and culture of Silicon Valley. She lives in San Francisco.
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Apple continues to be the company that’s all about superlatives with yet another extraordinary quarter.

Bloomberg reports that Chinese shoppers helped boost the company’s quarterly profit by 33 percent to $13.6 billion, or $2.33 a share. Revenue rose 27 percent to $58 billion. The company increased its capital-return program by $70 billion. IPhone sales in China were greater than in the U.S. for the first time. And iPhone 6 and 6 Plus demand could produce Apple’s highest annual profit since 2012.

Hedge funds (and mutual funds too) must be cheering, given that Apple has been a top performer for public market investors. The stock touched a new high after the company reported results.

Also keeping shareholders happy: a bigger stock buyback program and a bigger dividend. The company is now the largest dividend payer in the S&P 500.

The lack of Apple Watch transparency provided comic relief during the call, though the company did make some noise about cutting down on the long Apple Watch wait times. In one mostly overlooked bit of bad news iPad sales continued to fall.. But demand is still high for bigger, more expensive iPhones.

Earnings Ahead

** Twitter reports today after the bell. Bloomberg says Wall Street expects adjusted earnings per share of 4 cents a share and sales of $456.2 million. As always, investors will closely watch the company’s user growth numbers and be sensitive to any decline. It’ll be interesting to hear whether the company discusses acquisitions like the live-streaming video app Periscope or its increasingly complicated relationship with some analytics companies that parse Twitter’s data.

The company has worked hard to roll out new features and new ways to find information, but remains hard to use and is struggling to compete with Facebook and Snapchat. (the New York Times

“Facebook makes you feel like you matter,” [a 22-year-old Twitter user] said. “Twitter is like New York. You can be the Naked Cowboy singing in Times Square, but people aren’t going to be paying much attention to you. No one’s that interested.”

Ventureland

Intarcia Therapeutics, which makes an implantable drug-delivery pump for diabetes patients, raised $225 million. The company was valued at almost $1.8 billion last March, and the current deal could allow investors to convert royalty options to stock at a price that values the company at $5.5 billion. (the Wall Street Journal)

People and Personnel Moves

Peter Hamby, a CNN political reporter, is joining Snapchat to be the startup’s head of news. (Politico)

David Riley, the former CIO at data equipment maker Foundry Networks, was sentenced to 6 1/2 years in prison for insider trading. (Fortune)

Jeff Smith, the CIO of IBM, is trying to transform the IT used by his own company’s massive workforce. (the Wall Street Journal)

Companies

Altera has been targeted by activist shareholder TIG Advisors, which wants Altera to sell itself to Intel. (Bloomberg)

Apple Pay will be accepted by Best Buy. The deal marks Apple’s first payments deal with a member of MCX, a group of retailers that’s building its own payment app that could rival Apple Pay. (Re/code) As the company expands its product lineup, it will outgrow what the Apple Store experience can offer customers. (Bloomberg View)

Facebook introduced video calling in its Messenger platform.

Google announced its Patent Purchase Promotion, which lets patent holders tell Google about patents they want to sell and at what price. The company also forged a digital news partnership with eight European publishers to focus on product development and training. (the Guardian)

Microsoft could take a massive write-off this summer due to its $7.9 billion acquisition of assets from Nokia. (Computer World)

Tesla stock rose after two analysts were bullish on the company’s new battery plans for homes and businesses. (Bloomberg)

Media Files

ESPN is suing Verizon for breach of contract. The sports network alleges that Verizon violates agreements that prevent it from breaking up the big bundle of TV channels that ESPN sells by selling skinny TV channel bundles. (Re/code)

Regulators could reject Dish Network’s wireless spectrum purchases, and Verizon says that Dish’s bidding strategy may have violated antitrust rules. (the Wall Street Journal)

News and Notes

Tech company expansion is creating a massive urban planning problem in Northern California. (the Wall Street Journal)

The U.S. could lose its leading position as the top place for academic researchers. (the Wall Street Journal)

In the wake of Nepal’s devastating earthquake, tech companies such as Viber and Google are helping rescuers and quake survivors stay informed and in contact with others. (NBC News)

A former hacker was banned from using the Internet as part of the terms of his parole. Find out what it’s like to be disconnected. (Reply All)

My generation was finally defined by its love of Oregon Trail. (Social Media Week)

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg View's editorial board or Bloomberg LP, its owners and investors.

To contact the editor on this story:
Maria Lamagna at mlamagna@bloomberg.net