That divergence is reflected in technology-spending forecasts. Market-research firm IDC predicts PC shipments will fall almost 10% this year worldwide. By contrast, mobile- phone shipments are projected to increase by 7.3% in the same period, fueled by demand for smartphones, with tablet unit sales growing an estimated 59%, IDC said in August.
Much of the disruption has been led by Apple, whose co- founder Steve Jobs coined this the “post PC” era. Analysts including Katy Huberty of Morgan Stanley have predicted the Cupertino, California-based company will today report better- than-anticipated fiscal fourth quarter results, especially after the release of the iPhone 5s and 5c last month. Apple is projected to have sold 33 million iPhones in the quarter, compared with 26.9 million a year earlier, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Apple’s profit for the quarter will be $7.21 billion, or $7.92 a share, on sales of $36.8 billion, according to analyst predictions compiled by Bloomberg. Absent new products for much of the period, the company’s profit is expected to fall for a third consecutive quarter.
Investors will be looking for a glimpse of how Apple expects to perform during the holiday shopping season. Huberty said iPhone sales could hit 55 million in the current quarter, up from 47.8 million a year earlier.
Apple, down 1.2% this year before today, is trading at 13 times its estimated earnings this year, compared with a 16 times average for peers, according to data compiled with Bloomberg. The shares were little changed at $526.20 at 10:06 a.m. in New York.
Facebook, meanwhile, has shown an improved ability to make money advertising to the hundreds of millions of users who access the social network via smartphones and tablets, ameliorating earlier fears that it couldn’t successfully navigate the mobile shift. The progress was reflected in the stock, which has soared 95% this year.
Third-quarter profit excluding some items will jump 47% to $455.8 million, according to analyst projections compiled by Bloomberg. Sales for the Menlo Park, California- based company will rise 51% to a record $1.91 billion. Facebook shares fell 2.1% to $50.85.
Kristin Huguet, a spokeswoman for Apple, declined to comment, as did Tucker Bounds, a spokesman for Facebook.
Apple and Facebook are reporting after record third-quarter results from Samsung, the world’s biggest maker of mobile phones. Google also posted better-than-anticipated third-quarter results, benefiting from an increase in the volume of mobile advertising. Amazon last week reported that quarterly revenue grew 24% to $17.1 billion as the company invests in new warehouses, speedier delivery, and a growing data-center business that is used by other companies.
“We have the potential to really improve people’s experience as they move more onto mobile and spend more time there,” Google Chief Executive Officer Larry Page said on a call with Wall Street analysts on Oct. 17.