Click photo to enlarge
Wednesday was Facebook's best day on Wall Street since its IPO in May. REUTERS/Eric Thayer/Files

Today: Facebook has its best day yet on Wall Street following an upbeat quarterly earnings report, while gaming partner Zynga also beats expectations with its revenue. Also: Analysts pile on Apple (AAPL) following iPad Mini announcement, and stocks stabilize a day after big sell-off.

Facebook catapults higher on earnings, Zynga beats expectations

After struggling mightily since their heavily anticipated initial public offerings, Silicon Valley social heavyweights Facebook and Zynga suddenly pivoted Wednesday, as Facebook's earnings report gave the Menlo Park company its best day yet on Wall Street and Zynga managed to top diminished earnings expectations with its own report.

Facebook stock shot higher than $24 a share for the first time since July on Wednesday after its earnings report showed the first hint of mobile monetization, with about $150 million, or 14 percent, of the company's $1.09 billion in ad revenue coming from ads shown on smartphones and tablets. Investors and analysts have fretted about the company's ability to show revenues from its popular mobile app since long before its May IPO, which sold shares at $38 apiece, a level the stock has yet to approach since the first day of public trading.

"Our opportunity on mobile is the most misunderstood aspect of Facebook today," CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg said in Tuesday's conference call. "Most people underestimate how fundamentally good the trend toward mobile can be for Facebook."

Analysts changed their tune on Facebook's mobile efforts after the report and Zuckerberg's words.

"Mobile problem? What mobile problem?" Pivotal Research Group analyst Brian Wieser said in an interview with Bloomberg News. "It's nothing short of remarkable."

Analysts with Citi, Bank of America/Merrill Lynch and Stifel Nicolaus upgraded the stock to a "Buy" in response to Tuesday's earnings report, and other analysts -- stricken by World Series fever, perhaps? -- resorted to baseball metaphors to explain their sudden positivity in the stock.

"In baseball parlance, Facebook hit two doubles: advertising revenue growth accelerated for the first time in at least six quarters (maybe more), and mobile revenues are moving the needle positively following the launch of new ad formats," Baird analyst Colin Sebastian wrote.

"While the frequency of ads delivered is clearly lower on mobile, we believe that monetization on the mobile platform is in early innings, and there is great potential for significant growth," Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter wrote.

After the markets closed Wednesday, Facebook's gaming partner also surprised cynical investors and analysts with an earnings report that showed growth in its revenues, following a series of trimmed forecasts. After the San Francisco company's trend of cutting revenue projections, analysts had forecast third-quarter revenues of $276 million, but Zynga easily beat that with revenues totaling $317 million, resulting in a balanced earnings sheet after excluding one-time costs, matching projections there.

In addition, Zynga announced a real-money gambling effort in Britain with partner bwin.party, a stock-buyback program and reiterated efforts to cut costs, which began with Tuesday's announcement of layoffs across the company.

"Those three things are causing the stock to go up, as people are hoping that there's some life left here," Sterne Agee & Leach analyst Arvind Bhatia told Bloomberg News.

The company's slaughtered stock indeed jumped in after-hours trading, rising as much as 16 percent following a 3.3 percent loss in the regular session.

Analysts and consumers continue to diss Apple's iPad event a day ahead of earnings

While Silicon Valley's black sheep rebounded Wednesday on Wall Street, the region's Superman of stocks continued to take hits from analysts, as they said the new iPad Mini would hurt Apple's own sales instead of its rivals'.

After blasting the pricing strategy for Apple's new device after it was announced Tuesday, analyst reports Wednesday morning focused on the competition in the market for smaller tablets.

Nomura Equity Research reported that iPad Mini sales would do little to thwart competition from popular 7-inch tablets such as Amazon's Kindle Fire and Google's (GOOG) Nexus 7, while Canaccord Genuity analyst Michael Walkley said: "iPad Mini will likely cannibalize iPad and iPod Touch sales."

The company also came under fire from consumers who were unhappy with its quick turnaround on the regular iPad, as Apple introduced a fourth generation of the device Tuesday, only seven months after the third generation was launched and gobbled up by fans of the device. More than three-quarters of respondents to an online poll Wednesday morning said that Apple releases products "too regularly" in response to the rapid release of the two iPad iterations.

Then again, more than half those poll respondents said they were still likely to buy Apple products. As well, only one analysis firm, Barclays Capital, cut its price target for the stock Wednesday, and that was only from $810 a share to $800, still far higher than the Cupertino tech giant's current price.

Apple stock managed a modest gain of 0.6 percent on the day after yet another patent win over Samsung, a welcome result headed into Thursday's quarterly earnings report.

Large declines from Netflix and Juniper balance with gains from Gilead, Yelp

Uneven results from quarterly earnings reports continued to wreak havoc Wednesday on Wall Street, but the large positive and negative swings resulting from company's financial performances counteracted to create little movement in the main U.S. indexes. All three major U.S. indexes declined, but none more than 0.3 percent.

Silicon Valley's day on the market was a microcosm of the whole, as companies that disappointed were punished and those that beat expectations received big boosts, and the SV150 index of the region's largest tech companies dropped slightly, at 0.3 percent.

Los Gatos video-on-demand service Netflix (NFLX) was the biggest loser on the day, as it declined 11.9 percent to $60.12 after being forced to trim its full-year forecast for subscriber growth in the streaming-video business. But Foster City biotech company Gilead jumped 5.3 percent after an earnings report that easily beat expectations, thanks to the strength of its HIV/AIDS drugs.

Sunnyvale networking company Juniper declined 8 percent after providing a fourth-quarter forecast that did not live up to expectations, and the company's dour outlook on its industry may have had an effect on larger rival Cisco (CSCO) -- the San Jose networking giant declined 3.5 percent on the day as it faces challenges from new technology. VMware shares gained 2.3 percent after the company met analyst forecasts and hired a new CFO, but provided a fourth-quarter forecast at the low end of expectations.

In Wednesday's earnings news, Yelp gave investors an early look at its third-quarter report while announcing the $50 million acquisition of European rival Qype, moves that sent the San Francisco company's stock up 7.4 percent. After the bell, Mountain View security software company Symantec reported an increase in profits, pushing its stock up more than 9 percent in late trading; and Milpitas chipmaker LSI contributed to the dismal outlook for chip companies with a negative report.

Silicon Valley tech stocks

Up: Facebook, Yelp, Gilead, LinkedIn, VMware, Jive, Apple

Down: Netflix, Juniper, Workday, Cisco, Tesla, Zynga, Advanced Micro Devices, Electronic Arts (ERTS), NetApp, Hewlett-Packard (HPQ), Nvidia, Applied Materials, eBay (EBAY), Yahoo (YHOO), Intel (INTC), Splunk, Google

The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index: Down 8.76, or 0.29 percent, to 2,981.7

The blue chip Dow Jones industrial average: Down 25.19, or 0.19 percent, to 13,077.34

And the widely watched Standard & Poor's 500 index: Down 4.36, or 0.31 percent, to 1,408.75

Check in weekday afternoons for the 60-Second Business Break, a summary of news from Mercury News staff writers, The Associated Press, Bloomberg News and other wire services. Contact Jeremy C. Owens at 408-920-5876; follow him at Twitter.com/mercbizbreak.