The end of the calendar third quarter is fast approaching. The stock market will soon be in the midst of the next quarterly season, but it won't occur for a couple of weeks yet. In the meantime, a couple of technology earnings releases continue to trickle in. This week will see reports from one of the largest business process outsourcing and information technology consultants, as well as a release from a financial transactions processor. iPhone 5 sales trends are also being reported.
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On Friday, September 21, Apple Corp (Nasdaq:AAPL) officially released the latest version of its popular iPhone smartphones. Preliminary reports put the sales total through the weekend at above 5 million devices. This beats the iPhone 4 tally, but was seen as disappointing based on rosier expectations for upwards of 6.5 million device sales. Supply could have been restricted, as media reports speculated most supply was delivered to Apple's own stores, as opposed to outside retailers including Best Buy (NYSE:BBY), as well as service provider retail stores including Verizon (NYSE:VZ) and AT&T (NYSE:T). The stock has been flat over the past week, but has still jumped around 70% so far in 2012. By contrast, the stock market overall is up only around 15%.
Moody's concluded that NCR Corp's (NYSE:NCR) (which sells Automatic Teller Machines (ATM) and related cash dispensers) plan to offer lump-sum payments to certain defined-benefit plan participants was a credit positive. It requires hefty payouts to retirees who choose to take them, but eliminates future risk of interest rates fluctuating or of the individuals covered living longer than currently modeled in the pension obligations. The fact that the buyout was allowed indicates that NCR's plan is at least 80% funded. Moody's also indicated that the buyout costs seem to be increasing, which means NCR was especially motivated to offer a deal to its pension plan participants and potentially save on future liabilities. Moody's sees this trend continuing, not just in the technology space, but also across corporate America. It estimated that a 1% increase in discount rates increases future pension benefit obligations by 10%. In a period of low interest rates, funds are motivated to minimize future liabilities as best they can.
SEE: A Primer On Defined-Benefit Pension Plans
On Thursday, information technology services giant Accenture (NYSE:ACN) will announce its fourth quarter and fiscal year results. Analysts expect only a modest sales growth of 1% to $6.75 billion and earnings of 88 cents per share, which would be down slightly from 91 cents reported in last year's fourth quarter. More than half of its sales stem from outside of the United States and are mixed between outsourcing, where clients use its staff and services to outsource business, accounting and human resources functions, and technology consulting which competes with the likes of International Business Machines (NYSE:IBM).
Thursday will also see the release of results from Global Payments (NYSE:GPN). It will announce results from the first quarter of its fiscal year. Analysts project sales growth of 7.5%, total sales of $583.49 million and earnings of 87 cents per share. This would represent a slight decline from earnings of 88 cents per share in last year's first quarter. Global Payments is an electronic transactions processor that is part of the chain by which consumers pay with credit cards to buy goods and services and the end retailer is reimbursed for these digital payments.
SEE: Financial Statements: Earnings
The Bottom Line
Technology earnings results will remain slow for the next couple of weeks but will start coming in quickly toward the middle of October. Until then, earnings results will come in slowly, especially from firms that have fiscal year ends that differ from the calendar year schedule.
At the time of writing Ryan C. Fuhrmann was long shares of IBM since 2010, but did not own shares of any other company mentioned in this article.