Stock Market Today: Netflix, Alphabet Lead Rally in Tech Stocks

Netflix reported much higher-than-expected subscriber growth, while Wall Street cheered Alphabet's layoff announcement.

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Stocks ended the week on a high note. And while the buying was widespread on Friday, tech stocks were the clear winner as investors cheered impressive subscriber growth from streaming giant Netflix (NFLX (opens in new tab)) and news that Google parent Alphabet (GOOGL (opens in new tab)) is undergoing its biggest round of layoffs ever. 

Last night, Netflix reported fourth-quarter earnings of 12 cents per share, much lower than the 45 cents per share analysts were expecting, due to forex headwinds. Revenue of $7.85 billion matched the consensus estimate. But the real number investors were looking for was the subscriber growth, and Netflix blew that out of the water. Specifically, the company added 7.66 million paid subscribers over the three-month period – a time frame that included the launch of a lower-price, ad-supported tier. This compared to Wall Street's expectation for 4.57 million additions. Netflix also said founder Reed Hastings will step down as co-CEO, and will be replaced by Chief Operating Officer Greg Peters. The stock rose 8.5% as a result.

"Netflix has had a show-stopping end to the year, in a performance even its worst critics can't argue with," says Sophie Lund-Yates, lead equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown. "While Wall Street sags with the weight of recession fear and Federal Reserve jitters, Netflix's huge beat on subscriber numbers has injected some much-needed optimism into the mix." 

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Elsewhere in the tech space, Alphabet said it is cutting roughly 12,000 positions, which works out to be about 6% of its global workforce, sending its shares up 5.3%. "Over the past two years we've seen periods of dramatic growth," Sundar Pichai, CEO of Alphabet, wrote in a memo to employees (opens in new tab). "To match and fuel that growth, we hired for a different economic reality than the one we face today." This follows similar layoff announcements from several big tech companies in recent months, most notably Amazon.com (AMZN (opens in new tab)), Meta Platforms (META (opens in new tab)) and Microsoft (MSFT (opens in new tab)).

Big gains for Netflix and Alphabet stocks helped the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite outperform today (+2.7% at 11,140), though the broader S&P 500 (+1.9% at 3,972) and the blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average (+1.0% at 33,375) still notched robust gains. 

3 Hot Earnings Reports to Watch

So what's in store for next week? Lots of chatter around what the Federal Reserve may or may not do at its upcoming two-day policy meeting, set to kick off on Tuesday, Jan. 31. Ahead of this, Wall Street will get more data on how the economy is holding up amid the central bank's efforts to tame inflation through aggressive interest-rate hikes, with the first reading on fourth-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) due out on Thursday. Additionally, December's personal consumption expenditures (PCE) index – the Fed's preferred measure of inflation that tracks consumer spending – will be released Friday. 

And throughout the week, investors will sift through a jam-packed earnings calendar. Among the notable names set to report quarterly earnings are Dow Jones stocks Microsoft and Visa (V (opens in new tab)). Electric vehicle maker Tesla (TSLA (opens in new tab)) is also on the docket. Despite a dismal end of the year for Tesla stock, analysts still expect solid growth in the company's Q4 financial results. 

Karee Venema
Contributing Editor, Kiplinger.com

With over a decade of experience writing about the stock market, Karee Venema is an investing editor and options expert at Kiplinger.com. She joined the publication in April 2021 after 10 years of working as an investing writer and columnist at Schaeffer's Investment Research. In her previous role, Karee focused primarily on options trading, as well as technical, fundamental and sentiment analysis.