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The only material difference between the quarterly results we saw last night is that one of those great companies had already run up 29% YTD and needed an absolute miracle to keep rallying without a break. The other one had been relatively neglected and had more space to stand up and cheer.

Twilio (TWLO: $115, up 2% this week but retreating 5% after hours) was the one that needed a break. We warned you of the possibility yesterday and unfortunately our intuition was accurate. Nobody can really agree on what was so awful about the numbers, which management called "extraordinarily strong" on the conference call. Revenue of $204 million came in $20 million ahead of our target and $0.04 in earnings was right on the mark even though some people were hoping for a few pennies more.

That word "pennies" is the critical thing to keep in mind here because that's how profitable this $14 billion stock is right now. It's not about reasonable multiples any time soon. Instead the key to Twilio has always been revenue growth, where guidance for next quarter was magnificent. Sales surged 77% last quarter. We weren't hoping for more than 50% this year. Management just told us they're confident with at least 65% for the entirety of 2019 and as much as 75% in the coming quarter.

That's why we're here. People grumbling about a slightly softer profit outlook need to check their outrage. If they were so happy owning Twilio at $115 against around $0.13 per share in full-year profit does it really make a huge difference now that the actual number is trending closer to $0.10? Earnings-driven investors were never here, so blaming that end of the outlook doesn't add up. We're here for the long haul.

Then there's Akamai (AKAM: $69, up 6% and then capturing another 2% overnight) where expectations were lower and the bulls can still find room to run after an amazing 13% YTD rally. All numbers, past and future, were stronger than we hoped. Revenue of $713 million beats our $703 target and adds 1% of top-line growth to the 6% our math predicted. Earnings of $1.07 per share blew away the $0.99 target and give this superficially "quiet" company a 55% growth profile.

While management isn't convinced that cash flow surge will continue into 2019, there's still plenty of sizzle in their outlook. Earnings this year will hit our $4.00 target and possibly climb as high as $4.15, which translates into a continued year-over-year improvement of 15%. In a world where the S&P 500 is struggling to convince us that it can grow earnings more than 5%, that's still amazing. If you're in Akamai, we hope you're enjoying the victory lap.

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Earnings Preview: Apollo Commercial Real Estate Finance (ARI: $18.42, up 2%)

Earnings Date: Wednesday, 5:00 PM ET

Expectations: 4Q18
Revenue: $80 million
Net Profit: $61 million
EPS: $0.41

Year Ago Quarter Results
Revenue: $69 million
Net Profit: $38 million
EPS: $0.32

Implied Revenue Growth: 13%
Implied EPS Growth: 28%

Target: $22
Sell Price: $15
Date Added: June 14, 2017
BMR Performance: 15%

Key Things To Watch For in the Quarter

Any number above $0.46 on the bottom line will earn a cheer. We aren't betting on a raise because we aren't greedy, but it would be nice, wouldn't it?

That said, published forecasts on this quarter are all over the map, which reflects the way management adjusts the numbers to fit their long-term strategy. This report may be heralded as a win, hissed as a miss or receive no response at all. Remain focused on the long haul and let the market work out its moods.

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Earnings Preview: Annaly Capital Management (NLY: $17.17 up 1%)

Earnings Date: Wednesday, 5:00 PM ET

Expectations: 4Q18
Revenue: $849 million
Net Profit: $391 million
EPS: $0.29

Year Ago Quarter Results
Revenue: $745 million
Net Profit: $354 million
EPS: $0.31

Implied Revenue Growth: 14%
Implied EPS Decline: 7%

Target: $19.50
Sell Price: $17
Date Added: April 27, 2018
BMR Performance: 9% + 10-11% dividends per year

Key Things To Watch For in the Quarter

As usual, this is all about maintaining the $0.30 dividend for what's now a yield of 11.2%. If Annaly can keep earning that much cash, quarter after quarter, it's done its job. That said, it's worth spending a little time to bask in that profit margin. 45% of revenue comes down to the bottom line. We love it.

Of course not everything is perfect here. Annaly issued 144,000 shares in the first nine months of last year to fund acquisitions, so the per-share profit trend isn't as rosy as usual. Don't be alarmed. Think of that $0.30 per share coming in every three months and rejoice.

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Earnings Preview: CyberArk (CYBR: $87, down 1%)

Earnings Date: Thursday, 8:00 AM ET

Expectations: 4Q18
Revenue: $95 million
Net Profit: $22 million
EPS: $0.59

Year Ago Quarter Results
Revenue: $80 million
Net Profit: $15 million
EPS: $0.41

Implied Revenue Growth: 18%
Implied EPS Growth: 44%

Target: $85
Sell Price: $60
Date Added: December 22, 2018
BMR Performance: 26%

Key Things To Watch For in the Quarter

A rarity among Tech companies with market capitalizations under $5 billion, CyberArk prefers to report its numbers in the morning, operating on Wall Street time instead of the Silicon Valley clock. And unlike its peers, it's already profitable at what would be a trickle of revenue by Big Tech standards. Take in those margins. From what we saw last year, if revenue comes in $15 million above last year's levels, half of that cash rolls right through to the bottom line.

There's almost endless room for this company to scale up and achieve even better efficiencies as it grows. While we aren't knocking the revenue growth rate, we recognize that Cyber Security is a ruthlessly competitive business, so the fact that CyberArk is expanding its share of the market is remarkable.

We've only been here since December so this is our first quarterly check-in on this stock anyway. Expectations are extremely relaxed. This one could be fun.

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Earnings Preview: AstraZeneca (AZN: $37, up 2%)

Earnings Date: Thursday, 8:00 AM ET

Expectations: 4Q18
Revenue: $6.2 billion
Net Profit: $1.9 billion
EPS: $0.75

Year Ago Quarter Results
Revenue: $5.7 billion
Net Profit: $1.6 billion
EPS: $0.65

Implied Revenue Growth: 9%
Implied EPS Growth: 15%

Target: $42
Sell Price: $32
Date Added: April 7, 2016
BMR Performance: 39%

Key Things To Watch For in the Quarter

At this stage in the cycle we'll welcome a relatively straightforward earnings statement from one of the biggest members of the Big Pharma club. We're looking for a decisive return to year-over-year EPS growth after exchange rates and slowing legacy therapies carved 40% out of the bottom line between the first and third quarters. Revenue is finally back on track as well.

This is the moment we hung on to capture throughout last year. Everything else is really noise, but that doesn't mean hearing about development partnerships and the progress of the long-term pipeline won't be interesting.