Did Microsoft Outfox Google?

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- If you've been waiting to buy into the big tech stocks, you may not have to wait much longer. After Wednesday's almost 2% decline in the Nasdaq 100, which fell to an intraday low of 3,186, it has corrected almost 4% from its 52-week high of nearly 3,307.

Wednesday we saw Apple ( AAPL) hit a new 52-week low, down over 6% to $398.11. Apple releases its earnings report next Tuesday, April 23, after the markets close. It may be the most anticipated earnings release in the company's recent history.

For now all eyes are on Thursday when, after the close of the markets, both Google ( GOOG) and its rival Microsoft ( MSFT) report on first-quarter 2013's earnings and sales growth.

Since MSFT inked a patent licensing deal with the parent company of Foxconn, Hon Hai, GOOG shares have been under pressure. Hon Hai is a contract manufacturer that makes most of the Android and Chrome devices, including the smartphones and tablets. That's not good news for Google shares, which corrected as much as 1.6% Wednesday to as low as $778.10 before closing at $782.56.

GOOG is the company that created and developed Android and Chrome platforms, which it offers for free to smartphone manufacturers. To make money GOOG pins its hopes on the online advertising traffic generated by its rapidly growing user base. Google has become the most successful competitor in the mobile device market as a result.

MSFT has also been in the fray, hoping to compete. Using its huge portfolio of patents and extensive experience, MSFT has made forays into both the smartphone and tablet markets. That's one of the reasons Google purchased Motorola Mobility in 2011 to expand its patent portfolios. The result has been a continuing battle over intellectual property in the mobile devices arena.

MSFT's deal with Foxconn is a big victory because it will mean that manufacturers will be paying Microsoft for Android phones instead of Google. Score one for Mr. Softy! Sterne Agee analyst Shaw Wu told MarketWatch the deal "increases the cost of Android phones. "Microsoft has taken a more aggressive stance."

However, this isn't going to do major damage to Google's mobile device dominance with its enormously popular Android devices. Wu also doesn't think the Foxconn deal is a big threat to GOOG going forward and will not dramatically improve Microsoft's miniscule presence in the mobile device sales competition.

"In a way, the licensing agreement is a way for Microsoft to monetize mobile without being in mobile," he added. That should contribute to MSFT's future EPS and revenue growth.

Meantime, the anticipation surrounding GOOG's first-quarter earnings report is that the company will be able to demonstrate how successfully it's combining its dominance of the Internet search market with its growing, aggressive entrance into the mobile device market.

The ascent of GOOG and its stock price since late 2008 lows is mind-boggling, as you can see from the chart below. Its quarterly revenue per share growth has been one of the big factors driving the stock higher. GOOG Chart GOOG data by YCharts

A big contributor to those stellar revenue numbers has been Google's ad sales, the company's #1 way of driving profits. Those ad sales are supposed to improve by nearly 20 percent from the year-ago quarter based on analysts' estimates.

The big number to be watching is sales growth and increased revenue. Analysts' consensus estimate is for a 72.5% whopping increase. Most of this terrific sales growth comes from Google's leadership in the Internet search space, where it controls and receives about two of every three requests for information.

Google's ability to keep growing has given the company a market value of nearly $258 billion. Only Apple, with its now-diminished market cap of around $373 billion, has a larger market value among the major technology companies.

Google's stock price has climbed nearly 10% in 2013 which is slightly more than the S&P 500 index has grown during the same time period. Besides owning shares of GOOG directly it is a component and represents 6.43% of the assets in the Proshares UltraTechnology ETF ( ROM).

Please keep in mind that ROM is leveraged and that it attempts to correspond to two times (2x) the daily performance of the Dow Jones U.S. TechnologySM Index. This has its obvious advantages and disadvantages so read its prospectus carefully before considering investing in ROM.

Thursday will be a big day for two of the biggest technology companies in the world. Between the earnings news and the conference calls we'll all have a better picture how these two competitors, Google and Microsoft, will continue the fierce rivalry between them. Expect surprises one way or another.

At the time of publication the author was long shares of AAPL, MSFT and ROM.

This article was written by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

Make smarter trading decisions and provide investment ideas that could help make you richer. Bryan Ashenberg does the dirty work so you don't have to!

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