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GOOG, AMZN post earnings wins, other techs struggle

A flurry of tech company earnings reports came in this week, and while some of the biggest tech names were going strong in the third quarter, several are still facing an uphill battle, analysts suggest.

On the positive side, Google parent, Alphabet, easily beat analysts' expectations with earnings of $7.35 per share on revenue of $18.68 billion, vs. the Thomson Reuters consensus estimates of $7.21 per share on $18.53 billion in revenue.

Improved mobile search ad pricing was a major contributor to the quarterly results, MKM Partners managing partner Rob Sanderson told CNBC.

"The shift to mobile has been dilutive for Google for some time, and here I think we're turning the corner and getting better pricing, and that's probably a trend that's sustainable for some time," Sanderson said.

The Google logo on a sign outside the Google headquarters in Mountain View, California.
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The Google logo on a sign outside the Google headquarters in Mountain View, California.

CFO Ruth Porat said the company is planning to spend more on developing energy and Internet technologies like Google Fiber, MIT Technology Review noted.

"Alphabet Is still a growth stock, and that direction should be reinforced, Rosenblatt Securities Internet analyst Martin Pyykkonen wrote early in the week.

Separately, YouTube, owned by Alphabet, announced plans to charge a monthly $9.99 subscription fee for commercial-free content and the ability to save that content for later viewing offline, bringing in a new source of revenue.

Amazon had a much better-than-expected quarter as well. Its earnings of 17 cents per share exceeded an expected loss of 13 cents, thanks in part to a 78 percent rise in its cloud computing revenue via Amazon Web Services.

"Looking ahead, the guidance range is large as usual, but we expect strong holiday sales and continued AWS growth to drive results to at least the high-end," Wedbush equity analyst Michael Pachter wrote in a research note Friday. He said Amazon's guidance for the fourth quarter implied sales growth of 14 percent to 25 percent from the year-ago period.

Amazon's success with Amazon Prime poses a serious challenge for eBay.

"We applaud the vision of playing to eBay's strengths of discovery of unique items and lower prices, however it is going to require heavy lifting to compete," Macquarie Capital analyst Ben Schachter said in a research note, "We are simply unsure that eBay.com can turn around in the face of Amazon's strength."

Ebay beat quarterly earnings estimates, reporting 43 cents per share versus analysts expectations of 40 cents.

Yahoo continued to struggle.

It said Tuesday that third-quarter earnings were 15 cents per share on $1.23 billion in revenue, but analysts expected Yahoo to post earnings of 17 cents per share on gross revenue of $1.26 billion, according to Thomson Reuters. The company also cut its revenue guidance.

"They're investing heavily to try to develop products and attracted advertisers, so far with mixed results at best," S&P Capital IQ's Scott Kessler said in a phone interview.

Kessler said the Internet giant has been losing relevance in the shift from desktop to mobile Internet use.

"The ground is continuing to shift under them, and they're doing whatever they can to reposition," he said. "Things haven't really worked as of yet."

Like Amazon, cloud services drove growth at Microsoft.

Microsoft reported earnings of 67 cents per share in the latest quarter with revenue reaching about $21.7 billion. vs. Thomson Reuters' consensus estimates of 59 cents per share on $21 billion in revenue.

"I think after a decade of pain under Steve Ballmer, I think [CEO Satya] Nadella, being a cloud visionary, really brought Microsoft into the next paradigm shift," Daniel Ives, managing director and senior analyst at FBR Capital Markets said in an interview with CNBC. "It's not your grandma's Microsoft anymore."

IBM has been turning away from its tried but no longer true business segments.

"We had very good performance again where we're investing our money, ... our cloud business, our analytics business, our security and our mobile businesses," IBM CFO Martin Schroeter said in an interview with CNBC.

But that may not be enough to encourage investors.

"Fundamental investors should continue to avoid IBM, there may be another 30 percent downside, over the next 12 months or so on the IBM stock," Global Equities Research Managing Director Trip Chowdhry said in a research note.

IBM reported earnings of $3.34 per share on $19.28 billion in revenue. Analysts expected earnings of about $3.30 per share on $19.62 billion in revenue, according to Thomson Reuters.

Like IBM, Dell has been shifting its focus. It's been turning to enterprise products and services, evidenced by its plan to acquire data storage firm EMC, but the full impact hasn't been realized, according to Jayson Nolan, IT hardware senior analyst at Robert W. Baird.

"I think Dell needed to diversify away from the PC. They need more exposure to the data center," he told CNBC. "This is a dramatic shift buying the number one enterprise storage company in the world and the number one infrastructure software company in the world, quite a big change for Dell."