Apple's Wild Week: Tech Weekly Recap

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Earnings from Google ( GOOG), Apple's ( AAPL) market cap and a major acquisition by Facebook were the talk of the tech world this week.

On Monday, an analyst did the unthinkable (gasp! the horror!) and downgraded Apple, citing concerns about carrier subsidies.

BTIG Research analyst Walter Piecyk cut his rating on the stock on beliefs that partners such as AT&T ( T) and Verizon ( VZ) would rein in iPhone subsidies.

"We believe that investors should take a breather during the expected strength of this quarter and the rapid rise in the stock," Piecyk wrote, citing potential changes in the wireless industry. "We expect post-paid wireless operators to remain firm in their plan to stunt the pace of phone upgrades in 2012 and we expect to see some initial evidence of their success in the current quarter."

Piecyk downgraded Apple from buy to neutral after shares hit his $600 price target.

Despite the downgrade on Monday, Apple continued to chug higher, with the company surpassing $600 billion in market cap for the first time on Tuesday. Shares touched a high of $644 that day, before settling at $628.44.

Apple shares have soared since the start of 2012, gaining 49.44%. That outpaces the 15.58% gain seen in the Nasdaq.

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Apple also made headlines on Wednesday, but for very different reasons. The tech giant was named in a lawsuit from the Justice Department over e-book pricing.

The Justice Department sued Apple, along with book publishers Macmillan and Pearson's ( PSO) Penguin Group "for conspiring to increase the prices that consumers pay for e-books," according to Attorney General Eric Holder.

French book publisher Hachette Book Group, News Corp.'s ( NWSA) HarperCollins Publishers and Simon & Schuster, a division of CBS ( CBS), have already settled with the DOJ.

Price target raises for Apple were back in style Thursday, as Credit Suisse raised its target to $750 from $700, citing higher iPhone volumes.

"In a multi-device world, Apple is materially advantaged versus peers," said analyst Kulbinder Garcha in his research report. He raised his earnings estimates for 2012 and 2013 by 5% and 10%, respectively, to $50.14 a share and $60.72 a share.

Shares of Apple closed lower on the week, losing 4.49% to finish at $605.23.

Despite not being public yet, Facebook made a major splash, as it snapped up (pun intended) Instagram for $1 billion in cash and stock on Monday.

Instagram, the popular photo-sharing app, reportedly has more than 40 million users, is the No. 1 free app on Apple's App Store, and recently became available on Google's Android market. The app lets users take pictures using their iOS and Android devices and apply filtered effects. These images can then be shared with friends and other Instagram users.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he was excited about the deal, as it will allow his company to work closer with Instagram to "offer the best experiences for sharing beautiful mobile photos with people based on your interests." He noted Instagram will remain independent of Facebook.

"We think the fact that Instagram is connected to other services beyond Facebook is an important part of the experience," Zuckerberg said on his Facebook Timeline. "We plan on keeping features like the ability to post to other social networks, the ability to not share your Instagrams on Facebook if you want, and the ability to have followers and follow people separately from your friends on Facebook."

Google was in focus on Thursday, as the Internet search giant posted mixed first-quarter results, and offered an unusual stock split.

The Mountain View, Calif.-based firm reported earnings of $10.08 per share on revenue of $8.14 billion. Total revenue, including traffic acquisition costs (TAC) came in at $10.65 billion. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected revenue of $8.146 billion, excluding traffic acquisition costs, and earnings of $9.65 a share. Wall Street typically excludes TAC costs from its estimates.

Google also announced that it would be creating a new class of stock, effectively issuing a stock split that is "designed to preserve the corporate structure that has allowed Google to remain focused on the long term."

Shares of Google closed the week lower, off 1.22% to finish at $624.60.

Yahoo! ( YHOO) CEO Scott Thompson laid out his plan to revitalize the company on Tuesday, realigning the firm into three divisions.

The Internet firm will now be under three groups: Consumer, (consisting of Media, Connections and Commerce); Regions, which targets emerging markets; and Technology, which focuses on the company's infrastructure.

Thompson stressed that the company is going to refocus its efforts on its customers. "For Yahoo! to win in our core business, every one of us must put our customers first," he said in the letter. "Specifically, we must focus all we do on the users who trust us to give them personalized content and communications, and the advertisers who want to connect with our users."

Shares of Yahoo! closed the week down 1.3% at $14.87.

AOL ( AOL) disclosed that it was selling a significant portion of its patents to Microsoft ( MSFT) for more than $1 billion on Monday. The 800 patents were originally thought to have a value of approximately $300 million, with the deal highlighting the strong demand for intellectual property.

AOL said most of the cash will be returned to shareholders, but it hasn't said how it will do so.

Shares of AOL soared during the week, gaining 40.01% to finish at $25.79.

Coinstar ( CSTR) shares soared after the company preannounced strong first-quarter results on Thursday.

The DVD-rental company reported preliminary revenue between $567 million and $569.2 million and earnings per share between $1.36 and $1.40. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters were looking for revenue of $537.66 million and earnings of 90 cents a share.

Coinstar raised its guidance for the full year. It said it expects revenue to be between $2.16 billion and $2.28 billion and EPS between $4.40 and $4.80. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters are currently looking for revenue of $2.22 billion and earnings of $4.09 a share.

Shares of Coinstar finished the week strongly, gaining 4% to close at $65.78.

Next week is chock-full of tech earnings, with results from such luminaries as IBM ( IBM), Intel ( INTC), F5 Networks ( FFIV), Qualcomm ( QCOM), VMware ( VMW) and Microsoft ( MSFT).

Interested in more on Coinstar? See TheStreet Ratings' report card for this stock.

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-- Written by Chris Ciaccia in New York

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