Facebook Fires Up for IPO: Tech Weekly

Tickers in this article: AAPL LNKD MSFT RIMM SIRI

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Even though earnings slowed down this week for the tech sector, there was plenty of news to be had, led by a trio of tech titans: Facebook, Apple and Microsoft .

The week started off with Microsoft investing $300 million in a joint venture with Barnes & Noble , as the NOOK becomes a viable competitor in the tablet space.

The partnership sees Microsoft and Barnes & Noble teaming up to form a joint venture for the NOOK tablet, bringing together Barnes & Noble's digital and college businesses.

Microsoft will own a 17.6% stake, with Barnes & Noble owning the remaining 82.4% in the as-yet-to-be-named company.

Shares of Microsoft closed the week down 3.5% at $30.98. Barnes & Noble gained $37.8% during the week to close at $17.90.

After the close of trading on Monday Groupon announced the resignation of two board members.

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz and venture capital firm Accel Partners' Kevin Efrusy resigned from the board. Schultz is stepping down immediately, while Efrusy's resignation from the board of directors will be effective as of the company's annual meeting in June.

Groupon said Daniel Henry, the chief financial officer of American Express , replaced Schultz, and Robert Bass, a vice chairman of accounting firm Deloitte LLP, should join its board after a shareholder vote at the annual meeting.

The Chicago firm has been wrestling with accounting issues since its IPO last year. Groupon recently restated fourth-quarter earnings, citing a shift in the company's deal mix and higher price offers, which have higher refund rates.

Shares of Groupon ended the week 16.4% lower at $9.97.

Apple once again garnered attention, amidst chatter about the new iPhone and market share gains against Amazon .

Rumors emerged of a longer, thinner iPhone, slightly different from previous versions of the iconic smartphone. Research firm IDC also showed Apple stole tablet market share from Amazon during the fourth quarter, as more consumers bought the iPad, seemingly at the expense of the Kindle Fire.

Shares of Apple closed the week 7.0% lower at $565.25.

Despite not being public yet, Facebook made news on Thursday when it set its IPO price range.

Facebook could raise as much as $13.6 billion from the IPO, and expects to receive approximately $5.6 billion from the offering. Approximately 180 million of the 2.14 billion shares Facebook has will be sold in the IPO.

The social networking giant expects its IPO to price between $28 and $35 per share. Shares priced at $35 would give Facebook a total valuation of $74.83 billion, less than the $100 billion mark rumored in recent weeks.

Sirius XM reported record first-quarter results on Tuesday but made no mention of returning cash to shareholders, as its battle with Liberty Media continues to heat up.

The satellite radio company earned 2 cents a share on $805 million in revenue. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters were looking for 2 cents a share on $803.83 million in revenue. Sirius also reiterated its 2012 revenue guidance on Tuesday, predicting sales of $3.3 billion. Analysts are looking for revenue of $3.359 billion.

Despite being free-cash-flow positive, Sirius did not announce a dividend or buyback, even though some investors thought it might. Liberty Media already owns 40% of Sirius as a result of a $530 million loan it provided the satellite radio company in 2009, and has been looking for a way to gain majority control of Sirius, though it's barred from additional purchases.

Sirius CEO Mel Karmazin spoke of returning cash but said the board of directors has not announced anything yet. "We believe a good use of our cash is to return capital to shareholders," he said on the conference call. "We've talked about acquisitions as something we would consider, but there's nothing we're seeing out there we feel anxious about acquiring."

Shares of Sirius closed the week down 1.8% at $2.16.

Yahoo! made the news this week, as the company's battle with activist investor Dan Loeb escalated.

Yahoo! sent a letter to shareholders on Wednesday urging them to support their board of directors amid an unfolding proxy fight between Yahoo! and its largest investor, hedge fund manager Loeb.

"We are confident that when you assess our new board's qualifications against Third Point's slate, you will come to the same conclusion that we did -- that this is the right board with the right mix of skills and experience to lead the company forward to create value for shareholders," Yahoo! wrote in its letter.

Just one day after that, Loeb and his hedge fund Third Point called for the resignation of CEO Scott Thompson, accusing the Yahoo! chief of lying on his resume. Thompson said he had a computer science degree from Stonehill College, but the college refuted that. Yahoo! called it an "inadvertent error," and is now looking further into the situation.

Shares of Yahoo! closed the week down 2.4% at $15.15.

LinkedIn reported strong first-quarter earnings on Thursday, led by strong growth in its largest segment.

The social networker reported earnings of 15 cents a share on $188.50 million in revenue for the March-ended period. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters were expecting earnings of 9 cents a share on $178.58 million in revenue. Sales at Hiring Solutions, its biggest segment, soared 121% to $102.6 million.

LinkedIn also gave better-than-expected second-quarter revenue guidance, and raised its full-year outlook. The social networking company expects second-quarter revenue to be between $210 million and $215 million. Wall Street expects $207.93 million in revenue.

LinkedIn also said it's acquiring SlideShare for $118.75 million in cash and stock.

Shares of LinkedIn soared this week, gaining 11.5% to finish at $117.30.

Research In Motion presented its new BlackBerry 10 operating system this week, but investors weren't impressed.

CEO Thorsten Heins showed off the operating system at a developer conference in Florida as RIM tries to regain lost market share. Heins also unveiled a prototype BlackBerry 10 device, which lacked the gadget's traditional keyboard.

Shares of Research In Motion finished the week 15.0% lower at $12.01.

There are more tech earnings next week from companies such as Rackspace , Cisco , priceline.com and AOL .

It's been a long week, with a slew of economic data and tech earnings. Next week has even more, so enjoy the weekend, watch the Kentucky Derby and have a few mint juleps before it all starts again bright and early Monday morning.

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

Check out our new tech blog, Tech Trends. Follow TheStreet Tech on your wireless devices.

-- Written by Chris Ciaccia in New York

>To follow the writer on Twitter, go to http://twitter.com/commodity_bull.

>To submit a news tip, send an email to: tips@thestreet.com

Tickers in this article: AAPL LNKD MSFT RIMM SIRI