Stocks to Watch: Google, IBM, Apple

NEW YORK -- Google ( GOOG), the search giant, posted fourth-quarter earnings growth of 12%.

Google earned $10.65 a share in the quarter on $11.3 billion in revenue, excluding traffic acquisition costs. With TAC, Google generated $14.42 billion in sales, up 36% from the same period last year.

"We ended 2012 with a strong quarter," CEO Larry Page in a prepared statement following the release of the results after Tuesday's close of trading. "Revenues were up 36% year-on-year, and 8% quarter-on-quarter. And we hit $50 billion in revenues for the first time last year -- not a bad achievement in just a decade and a half. "

Analysts were expecting Google to earn $10.49 a share on fourth-quarter revenue of $12.3 billion.

Cost-per-click, a key metric for ads, fell 6% year over year, but rose 2% on a sequential basis, Google said.

Google Jumps on Earnings Beat, CPC Rise

IBM ( IBM) topped Wall Street's fourth-quarter earnings estimates, boosted by strength in its software business.

The tech giant reported revenue Tuesday of $29.3 billion, down from $29.5 billion in the same period last year, but above analysts' estimates of $29.09 billion. Excluding items, IBM earned $5.39 a share, up from $4.71 a share a year earlier. Analysts expected earnings of $5.25 a share.

Software revenue in the quarter rose 3% (or 4% adjusted for currency) to $7.9 billion.

For fiscal 2013, IBM expects earnings, excluding items, of $16.70 a share. Analysts forecast earnings of $16.63 a share.

IBM Beats, Boosted By Software

Apple ( AAPL), the iPod, iPhone and iPad maker, is expected by analysts Wednesday to post quarterly earnings of $13.43 a share on revenue of close to $55 billion.

Shares of the tech giant have fallen more than 20% over the past three months, which has prompted research firms to posit that there may be waning interest in Apple's products.

Kantar Worldpanel issued a note that showed while Apple has more than 50% market share in the United States, with 51.2% as of Dec. 23, that's down from 53.3% as of Nov. 25, leading to perhaps a growing concern that Apple products are growing stale.

Apple reports after Wednesday's close of trading. TheStreet will be live-blogging the earnings reports beginning at 3:45 p.m. EST

Is Apple Losing Its Luster? Not by a Long Shot

McDonald's ( MCD), the world's biggest fast-food chain, is expected by analysts Wednesday to report fourth-quarter earnings of $1.33 a share on revenue of $6.89 billion.

Abbott Laboratories ( ABT) is expected by analysts Wednesday to report fourth-quarter profit of $1.50 a share on revenue of $10.58 billion.

Health insurer WellPoint ( WLP) is expected by Wall Street to post quarterly earnings Wednesday of 96 cents a share on revenue of $15.32 billion.

Shares of Dell ( DELL) jumped 2.2% Tuesday following reports that Microsoft ( MSFT) could invest as $3 billion in an eventual takeover of the struggling PC maker.

The Wall Street Journal, citing people familiar with the deliberations, reported Wednesday that Microsoft entered talks in recent days with private-equity firm Silver Lake Partners and Dell founder Michael Dell to buy the computer maker from public stockholders.

Dell Pops on Microsoft Rumors: Winners & Losers

-- Written by Joseph Woelfel

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