STRONG QUARTERLY RESULTS FROM GOOGLE AND MICROSOFT, BUT IBM LAGS - Three major multinationals with significant operations in Ireland have reported their latest figures overnight. The results were something of a mixed bag. Google shares rose in after-hours trading on Wall Street after it reported $11 billion in quarterly revenue. Its earnings were up 16% compared to the same three month period last year. The signs are that it is making progress in selling ads on mobile smartphones and tablet devices. Rival Microsoft also had a surprisingly good quarter. The recent decline in PC sales was expected to hit the software company hard over the past quarter but that did not happen. Microsoft shares were up 1.5% as it posted an 18% climb in both revenue and earnings well ahead of Wall Street expectations. IBM, though, did not have a good three months with revenue down 5% and profit 1% lower than the same quarter last year.
Aidan Donnelly, a senior equity analyst with Davy Private Clients, says that both Microsoft and Google reported strong revenues for the three months to the end of March, while the companies also managed to maintain good profit margins. He points out that the Microsoft revenue was just slightly shy of expectations due to the slower than expected rollout of Windows 8.
But Mr Donnelly said that IBM saw revenues fall in all its main areas, apart from Japan. IBM is seen as a good gauge of the industry as it touches many different aspects of technology. However, on a positive note the company did maintain its guidance for its full year performance. Looking ahead to Apple's quarterly results next week, the analyst said that ''last year's darling has turned into this year's devil''. He says that sentiment towards the maker of the iPhone and iPad is likely to remain negative for the next few months.
MORNING BRIEFS - Electronic payments company ACI is expanding its Irish Development Centre in Limerick with the creation of 60 new jobs. Marin Software, a company which specialises in analysing online advertising effectiveness for its corporate clients, is to establish its international headquarters in Dublin which is expected to result in 35 new jobs. Both investments are supported by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation through IDA Ireland.
*** Bloomberg is reporting that Matthew Elderfield, the outgoing financial regulator, is in talks about a potential move to British bank Lloyds. neither side in these reported negotiations is prepared to comment. Mr Elderfield said last week that he is going to step down from the position he has held since 2010 to return to the UK.
*** More than half of Irish retailers say their turnover fell over the past 12 months, according to a report commissioned by AIB and compiled by Amárach Research. Just one in six said they had seen an increase in turnover during 2012. Two thirds of the 167 retailers surveyed say they have had to cut staff levels to reduce cost and three out of five say they have responded to the downturn by discounting prices and sacrificing profit margins to bring customers back. In terms of future outlook just over half, 51%, say they plan to expand over the next three years. A third of the firms say they will look for finance in the year ahead towards that end.