Who’s Up, Who’s Down in Tech Company Earnings Land

Well, we can’t all be Amazon. While the Seattle-based e-commerce giant (NASDAQ: AMZN) raked in a $199 million profit for the third quarter of 2009—a 68 percent increase in net income over the same period last year—Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) posted an 18 percent decline in its profits (still $3.57 billion, better than analysts expected).

But beyond these giants of the global tech scene, Seattle has some mid-market public tech companies that we’ve been paying closer attention to lately. That’s because they provide a much more complete picture of what’s going on in the public markets, as well as the mood across different industries like digital media, data storage, and high-performance computing.

Of these local bellwethers, two companies announced modest quarterly profits this week, and two others posted losses but are on the long-term comeback trail. It’s clearly still tough times out there, but here are the highlights:

—RealNetworks (NASDAQ: RNWK), the Seattle digital media and entertainment company, managed to post a surprising profit of $1.5 million for the third quarter of 2009, its first profitable quarter since the first three months of 2008. That’s despite posting quarterly revenue of $140.3 million, a decrease of 8 percent from $152 million in the same period last year (when the company posted a net loss of $4.5 million). RealNetworks reduced its operating costs and formed partnerships with Facebook and Apple over the past few months.

—Cray (NASDAQ: CRAY), the Seattle-based supercomputing company, reported a net loss of $2.1 million for the third quarter. But its revenue was $58.6 million, a 7 percent increase over the same period in 2008. In the second quarter of this year, Cray posted a surprise profit of $3.4 million on the strength of large government contracts and a broader customer base.

—InfoSpace (NASDAQ: INSP), the meta-search company based in Bellevue, WA, posted a profit for the second straight quarter (following three consecutive quarterly losses). Its net income for the third quarter was $1.8 million, based on revenue of $54.4 million, an increase of 38 percent over its revenue from the same period a year ago.

—Isilon Systems (NASDAQ: ISLN), the Seattle-based data storage firm, reported a net loss of $4.9 million for the quarter. The company’s quarterly revenue was $30.5 million, up 1 percent over the same period a year ago, but its net loss increased from $3.7 million in the previous quarter this year. I wrote about nine-year-old Isilon’s efforts to bounce back from some tough times in a profile last week.

On October’s last trading day, the stock market plunged. As Scott E. Marcouiller, a senior equity market strategist at Wells Fargo Advisors in St. Louis, told the New York Times today, “The market is focusing on the glass is half empty…We just needed to let some of the air out of the balloon.”

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