Investors look to future, as company results surface

Investors look to future, as company results surface

It is earnings season here and overseas - that is when companies announce how they have done in the past three or six months. But that is rear view mirror stuff, what investors are really focused on is what will happen next.

That has been shown by the reaction to the profit results from two-high profile companies. One of them is based here in New Zealand, the other is a social media giant.

Casino company SkyCity Entertainment has announced a six-month net profit of $71 million. That is an increase of 30 percent and was right at the top of the company's forecast range of $69 to $71 million. The company said there were improvements across its four New Zealand and two Australian properties and it also had lower funding costs.

Revenue increased 14 percent to $566 million.

Tourism is booming in New Zealand and SkyCity is one of the beneficiaries of that. Its international business, what you and I might call the VIPs or high-rollers, saw turnover rise 51 percent to $7.2 billion.

But investors appeared unimpressed. The share price fell 1.6 percent to $4.37.

Why? Some investors believe the good news was already priced into the stock.

It is a reminder that a company can have a strong result, but the share price can go down.

Twitter's share price fell even further, briefly hitting a new all-time low, after revealing its user numbers were slightly down for the three months to December.

Its active-user numbers dropped by 2 million, to 305 million.

The company did have some good news. It announced revenue of US$710 million - an increase of 90 percent.  Its net loss fell by 27 percent to US$90 million for three months.  Advertisers grew 90 percent from a year earlier, to 130,000.

But investors were focused on the user numbers.

Wall Street is tolerant of tech companies that make a loss, as long as they think the companies are growing and the long-term earnings will be good. But investors won't accept social media companies that are suffering from stagnant or falling user numbers.

Wall Street wanted Twitter to be the next Facebook. Not only has Facebook grown its user numbers to 1.6 billion, but it's making money - lots of money. It earned more than 1 billion dollars in net income in its latest three month resul, it's hiring staff, has found a way to make mobile advertising work and is diversifying into areas like virtual reality.

Instagram is also growing. Its user base has surpassed 400 million.

In comparison Twitter's user numbers look unimpressive.

Twitter is great for reading breaking news. But critics say it is not user friendly and has not been introducing features that its users want. Although it's popular with reporters, celebrities and politicians there are growing questions about its relevance to the wider public.

The pressure is now on founder and chief executive Jack Dorsey to turn it around.

Especially with a share price that is US$14, compared to a high of $70.