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Investors Business Daily

Stock Market Rally Pulls Back; Microsoft, Google Slash Jobs; Netflix, Goldman, Tesla In Focus: Weekly Review

The stock market rally suffered some big losses during the week, with the major indexes breaking key levels. But stocks rebounded, led by the Nasdaq and growth plays, while the Dow struggled. Weak economic data coupled with low jobless claims and some still-hawkish Fed officials raised recession risks. Microsoft and Google parent Alphabet slashed jobs while Netflix subscriber growth easily beat views. Morgan Stanley topped forecasts while Goldman Sachs fell far short of consensus.

Stock Market Retreats

The major indexes reversed sharply lower Wednesday, then extended losses Thursday before rebounding Friday, amid recession and Fed fears. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq regained their 50-day lines Friday, but the Dow Jones did not. Treasury yields tumbled, hitting their lowest levels since September, before bouncing somewhat. Crude oil futures moved above $80 a barrel.

Economy Cools, Job Market Still Tight

Retail sales for December fell a sharper-than-expected 1.1% from November, or 0.7% excluding vehicles and gas. Along with downward revisions to the prior month's data, which now shows a 1% decline, the consumer appeared to end the year low on momentum. Holiday discounting and a strong October start to the Christmas shopping season may be partial explanations. But even sales at restaurants and bars dipped 0.9% and 0.1%, respectively, the past two months, a sign of belt tightening. Overall retail sales rose 6% from a year ago in December. That's still slightly positive on an inflation-adjusted basis, with goods, food and fuel prices up 4.85% from a year ago. Industrial production also fell in December, led by manufacturing, with downside revisions as well. However, December's producer price index, which measures wholesale inflation, fell 0.5% on the month, as the annual increase slowed to 6.2%.

With more layoff announcements, including at Microsoft and Google, economists expect the job market to weaken. But it doesn't appear to have happened yet. New claims for jobless benefits fell to a stunningly low 190,000 in the week through Jan. 14 from a tame 205,000 the prior week. Given low jobless claims, January's jobs report, which is based on a mid-month employer survey, may look fairly solid.

Microsoft, Google To Slash Jobs

Software giant Microsoft revealed plans to lay off 10,000 employees, or about 4.5% of its workforce. The move comes amid a slowdown in its core businesses of Windows and Office software. Microsoft will take a $1.2 billion charge in its just-ended fiscal second quarter related to severance costs and other restructuring expenses. Meanwhile, CEO Satya Nadella told employees the company will continue to allocate capital and talent to secular growth areas, such as artificial intelligence and cloud computing. Meanwhile, Google parent Alphabet will cut 12,000 jobs, or 6% of staff. CEO Sundar Pichai said in a memo that the company ramped up staffing in recent years "for a different economic reality than the one we face today."

Netflix Tops Subscriber Views

Internet television network Netflix added 7.66 million subscribers worldwide in the December quarter, crushing estimates for 4.57 million. It ended the year with 230.75 million total subscribers. However, Q4 EPS dived 91%, far below views. Revenue rose 2% to $7.85 billion, roughly in line. Netflix also gave mixed guidance for Q1. Co-founder Reed Hastings stepped down as co-CEO to become executive chairman, completing a succession process. Shares jumped.

Tesla Continues Bounce

Tesla stock continued to rally from bear market lows, with strong weekly gains. Weekly China EV registration data showed Tesla demand rebounding on price cuts there. The big issue is whether price cuts around the world will show a sustained increase, mitigating weaker gross margins. Meanwhile, Tesla faces a securities fraud lawsuit over Elon Musk's "funding secured" tweets about taking the EV giant private. Tesla will announce fourth-quarter earnings Wednesday.

United Air Falls Despite Beat-And-Raise Report

United Airlines earnings surged 254% in Q4 vs. a year earlier, easily beating views. Revenue swelled 51% to $12.4 billion, also topping. The carrier also guided well above consensus for Q1 EPS. But shares suffered a big downside reversal on results. Shares had surged 23% and 12% in the prior two weeks, respectively.

Morgan Stanley Beats, Goldman Misses Badly

Morgan Stanley earnings and revenue fell for the fourth straight quarter, with EPS down 37% and revenue 12%. But both beat views. Goldman Sachs earnings fell for the fifth straight quarter and revenue for the fourth consecutive period. EPS dived 69% to $3.32, far lower than consensus of $5.56 per share. Revenue fell 16%, just missing. Both companies saw major drops in investment banking revenue, partially offset by increases in net interest income. MS jumped Tuesday, then pared weekly gains. Goldman tumbled.

Oil Services Giant SLB Tops Views

SLB, formerly known as Schlumberger, reported a 73% EPS gain while revenue grew 27% to $7.9 billion, both topping. The company also gave an optimistic outlook for 2023 based on strong oil demand while supply is expected to remain tight. SLB stressed that commercial successes in the Middle East, with offshore projects and across North American markets are the reasons for this optimism. SLB shares were little changed, near four-year highs.

Brokers Get Net Interest Boost

Charles Schwab and Interactive Brokers both benefited from big boosts to net interest income. Schwab earnings rose 24.5%, just missing views, with revenue up 17%. Net interest income popped 41%. Interactive Brokers earnings growth accelerated for a second straight quarter, to 57%. Revenue spiked 62% to $976 million, easily beating. Net interest income skyrocketed 90% to $565 million.  SCHW stock tumbled. IBKR stock rose near to a buy point.

Travelers, Allstate Warn On Big Storm

Dow Jones component Travelers reported preliminary Q4 EPS that was well below analyst views. That includes a $459 million pretax loss for catastrophic losses, mostly the late December winter storm. Allstate sees an adjusted net loss of up to $385 million, reflecting a catastrophic loss of $779 million in Q4, with another $593 million in December. Travelers and Allstate shares fell sharply.

News In Brief

Moderna popped Wednesday after the company said its experimental respiratory syncytial virus vaccine was 83.7% effective against two symptoms of RSV in adults age 60 and older. The vaccine was 82.4% protective against severe RSV, defined as three or more symptoms of the respiratory illness. Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline also are working on RSV vaccines.

Procter & Gamble earnings fell 4%, in line with fiscal Q2 views, while revenue dipped 1%, just beating. The consumer products giant hiked prices, but volumes also fell. PG stock stumbled as many food and consumer products firms skidded.

J.B. Hunt Transport Services reported a surprise 16% EPS decline, with 4% revenue growth also missing. But the trucking firm sees a freight rebound later in 2023. JBHT stock jumped on earnings, adding to gains on a 5% dividend hike.

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