April 29 - Summary: Twitter beats forecasts but investors want faster subscriber growth; Fewer-than-expected customers drop Sprint, which is pinning hopes on high quality music; Wall Street nearing highs again.Conway G. Gittens reports.
PLEASE NOTE: THIS EDIT CONTAINS CONVERTED 4:3 MATERIAL Twitter broke even last quarter, excluding special items, compared to forecasts for a quarterly loss. Revenues grew more than expected at $250 million in the after-the-bell release. More importantly average monthly active users jumped 25 percent compared to a year ago, which was just about in line with forecasts. Wall Street was hoping for better subscriber numbers and so the stock erased all of the gains made during the regular session. Ahead of that, Wall Street cheered up a little after better-than-expected earnings from Merck and Sprint. The Dow and the S&P 500 are marching towards record highs again. The Nasdaq rallied less than a percent. In its quarterly report, Merck said it cut research spending and upped asset sales, but revenue came in slightly below expectations. Shares of Merck climbed more than three percent. Another big name in earnings, Sprint. The number of subscribers ditching the mobile service was slightly higher, but not as high as expected. In a bid to turn the tide, Sprint is launching a new high-quality audio phone made by HTC and partnering with Spotify to offer a free premium streaming music account for six months. Here's Sprint CEO Dan Hesse: SOUNDBITE: SPRINT CEO DAN HESSE (ENGLISH) SAYING: "Today smartphones are loaded with multi gigahertz processors, multi gigabyte memories and large hi-definition screens, which run on superfast 4G networks. Video has taken advantage of these developments. We think it's high time that audio does too. So, many months ago Sprint, Harman and HTC embarked on a plan to redefine how music should sound on the modern smartphone." Shares of Sprint surging over 11 percent on quarterly results that were not as bad as feared. Coach reported a sharp drop in North American sales, as it continues to lose ground to fast-growing rivals. The stock slumped 9 percent. Away from the trading floor...The Fed started a two-day policy meeting and there's new data to consider: Home prices rose in February, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller Index. And U.S. consumer confidence dipped in April, but hovered near a six-year high. European shares got a boost from tech stocks.