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Netflix, Facebook, Yahoo, More! Your Early Bird Web Company Earnings Special

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A quarter's worth of scuttlebutt about Amazon, eBay, AOL, and others.

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If you ask any honest financial writer, analyst, or self-professed expert what numbers any company will report on its quarterly earnings date, their best answer is: "I dunno." But that doesn't stop any of us from speculating about it, or chewing the fat when all those report dates are looming just ahead. After all, this is what "Street expectations" are all about.

With that, here's a quarter's worth of scuttlebutt on some Web giants, including Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY), Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX), Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), AOL (NYSE:AOL), and Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO).

Amazon Reaps Rewards

Bloomberg's Danielle Kucera expects Amazon to lose its position as the most expensive technology stock-but only in a good way. She argues that investors have been patient while founder Jeff Bezos blew through $18.5 billion or so in order to stake out a competitive position in digital content and cloud computing, and speed delivery of everything else Amazon sells by opening new warehouses coast to coast.

"Patient" is an understatement. Investors have bid Amazon up to a share price that's about 700 times earnings, the richest valuation among the Standard & Poor's 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) stocks.

Now, Kucera argues, it's pay dirt time, when those huge investments start paying off. She expects Amazon's profits to increase enough to cut its valuation to about 48 times earnings next year.

Not all are as optimistic about Amazon's future, at least in the short term. Since JPMorgan downgraded the stock in mid-March and tacked a $300 price target on it, it has dropped a bit, from about $275 to $261 at Monday's close. Others have a price target ranging from $245 to $370.

Amazon reports on April 26.

EBay's Best Little Friend

EBay is on a roll in investor opinion lately, with many focused on the auction site's fast-growing PayPal division. Last Thursday, at the company's first analyst meeting in two years, investors got plenty of encouragement for their optimism about the mobile computing future of both the eBay marketplace and the PayPal electronic payments business. The company projected total revenues will top $21 billion, or nearly 70%, by 2015.

On Monday, when the Nasdaq market reopened with a dull thud, eBay still climbed 2.75% to close at $55.71.

EBay reports on April 18.

Netflix on a Rollercoaster

Netflix stock is a true roller-coaster ride for investors, but lately it's been traveling upwards, doubling since the start of the quarter to $182.43 at Monday's close.

Which would be fine if that were a bit closer to the $300 it had reached two years ago, just before its new pricing plan enraged many of its loyal subscribers.

From the view of many analysts, Netflix is still a disaster waiting to happen, because of concerns about its basic subscription model. That is, subscribers adore paying a low monthly fee for all-you-can-watch viewing. But they want all of the premium-priced content that Netflix can't include in that low price.

Its many competitors, from the cable companies to Amazon, make do by offering a library of staples and classics, and charging a premium fee for the hot stuff. Netflix, having made its name with all-you-can-watch pricing, can't get away with that.

That said, Netflix is growing its subscriber base fast, here and abroad. It anticipates growth in earnings per share of 118% in the next year, to $2.99 per share. It has a history of meeting or beating expectations, too.

Netflix reports on April 24.
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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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