Yahoo Finance's Ines Ferre discusses how Apple stock is responding to a report that State Department employees' iPhones were hacked, why Meta shares are falling amid a whistleblower revelation, and how Ulta Beauty stock is responding to its earnings beat.
INES FERRE: Reuters reporting that nine State Department employees' phones were hacked, and they were hacked using spyware developed by NSO. That's an Israeli-based tech firm known for its spyware. Now the hack reportedly took place in the last several months. And the targets were state officials, State Department employees who either worked in Uganda or were focused on work in Uganda.
Now NSO Group said in a statement that they're investigating this incident, and they will terminate any customer that may have had anything to do with this. And they're cooperating with an investigation. But this is relatively important then, given the fact that Apple reportedly acknowledged it to the State Department officials that it was State Department officials that were targeted. And it just shows you how significant NSO software can be.
Now the stock is off to more than 2% today, but this is also because of the broader market sell-off and the sell-off that we're seeing in information technology. But if we just take a look at a five-day chart because I do want to note that out of the big cap tech names, Apple is up 2% for the last five days. You'll recall that earlier in this week, Apple had actually hit new highs back on Tuesday. They closed at new highs, as some investors were seeing Apple as sort of a safe haven, flight to safety trade amid all this uncertainty.
JARED BLIKRE: And Ines, I was just noting Meta, formerly Facebook, that was down, what, 7% or so over those last five days. And I just want to say, Facebook is headed for a 20% close, 20% down from its highest closing level. I don't want to call it a bear market. Not supposed to do that with individual stocks, but nevertheless, very noteworthy here, Ines.
INES FERRE: Yeah, that's right. And in fact, Facebook has seen some $230 billion of its value wiped out since September. Now, of course, we are seeing a broader market sell-off, but you also had recently over the last couple of months the whistleblower revelations about Facebook's handling of Instagram and teenagers. And the stock today was down as much as 3% at one point, reaching $300 a share during the lows of the session.
And the stock really started slumping in October after reporting its quarterly results after missing on its expectations for revenue, also missing on guidance, and also talking about the impact that Apple's iOS changes would have on advertising. But from January to September, the stock had been up 42%, really outperforming its peers. But then it started to go on a steady decline since then, as you were just noting, that losing about 20%, not really, as you said, not necessarily talking about individual stocks heading into bear market, territory, but nevertheless, a big decline.
Year to date, the stock is up about 11%. Analysts, though, Jared, are still very bullish on this stock there. You've got 52 buy recommendations, 7 hold, and 3 sell recommendations. So 52 buys, still bullish on Facebook-- or Meta.
KARINA MITCHELL: All right, and Ulta Beauty also looking pretty good, Ines, beating on both the top and the bottom line and raising its guidance as well.
INES FERRE: Yeah, that's right, and the stock actually had opened higher today. I'll look at our interactive board right now, but it actually opened higher and then went into negative territory, as we saw a broader market sell-off. A strong quarter for Ulta Beauty. Its full year guidance raise, that's what's really gotten analysts very excited about the stock. Its comparable store sales a key metric for the retail industry. That's seen to be rising 36% to 37% this year. And that's a raise. And analysts called the quarter really robust. Deutsche Bank boosting its price target, Stifel also boosting its price target on the stock, Goldman Sachs as well.
And Ulta also announced that it had expanded its loyalty program to some 36 million members. They saw really strong growth compared to last year when it comes to eyes, when it comes to lips, when it comes to face, lash extensions, haircare, double digit growth. So, overall, very strong as far as the quarter's concerned, as far as the guidance is concerned. And year to date, the stock is up 31%. Karina, Jared.
JARED BLIKRE: And we want to thank you for that, Ines Ferre.