By Wayne Cole SYDNEY (Reuters) - Shares in tech heavyweights Apple and Facebook held hefty after-hours gains on Thursday as their results handily outpaced Wall Street expectations, though Asian markets managed only a mumbled cheer. The Nikkei slipped 0.97 percent with some investors apparently disappointed that a meeting between Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Barack Obama made no concrete progress on a trade deal. The gains come after Apple decided to buy back $30 billion of its shares through the end of 2015 and authorized a seven-for-one stock split. Apple reported sales of 43.7 million iPhones in the quarter ended March, far outpacing forecasts.
By Edwin Chan SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Apple Inc has approved another $30 billion in share buybacks till the end of 2015 and authorized a rarely seen seven-for-one stock split, addressing calls to share more of its cash hoard while broadening the stock's appeal to individual investors. Activist investor Carl Icahn, who had famously called on the iPhone maker to boost its buyback program, tweeted his approval of the move on Wednesday. On Wednesday, Apple reported sales of 43.7 million iPhones in the quarter ended March, far outpacing the roughly 38 million that Wall Street had predicted. But whether Apple can again produce a revolutionary new product remains the central question in investors' and Silicon Valley executives' minds.
By Luciana Lopez NEW YORK (Reuters) - Warren Buffett, chairman of conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway, said on Wednesday that safety is a major priority for the rail industry, after a recent spate of accidents raised concerns about how to transport oil safely. He added that the delay in the construction of the Keystone pipeline was unlikely to prompt additional purchases of tank cars at Berkshire railroad unit BNSF. COCA-COLA COMPENSATION PLAN Buffett also said, in an interview with CNBC the same day, that he thinks Coca-Cola's equity compensation plan was excessive, but that Berkshire Hathaway abstained in a shareholders vote. Earlier on Wednesday, Coca-Cola said 83 percent of shareholders approved the plan.
By Alexei Oreskovic SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Facebook Inc's mobile advertising business accelerated in the first three months of the year, helping the Internet social networking company top Wall Street's financial targets. Shares of Facebook were up nearly 3 percent at $63.05 in after-hours trading on Wednesday. Facebook said that mobile ads represented 59 percent of its ad revenue in the first quarter, up from 30 percent in the year-ago period. Facebook's overall revenue grew 72 percent year-on-year to $2.5 billion in the first quarter, above the $2.36 billion expected by analysts polled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. "They've got the right products for what advertisers are looking for and that's manifesting itself in the results you're seeing," said JMP Securities analyst Ronald Josey.