(Updates to afternoon trading, adds quote, Etsy IPO)
* Netflix rallies after results, SanDisk lower
* Etsy shares almost double in IPO
* Dow down 0.02 pct, S&P 500 down 0.04 pct Nasdaq down 0.1 pct
By Caroline Valetkevitch
April 16 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were little changed on Thursday as mixed first-quarter results from companies gave investors few clues on the outlook for U.S. earnings.
While shares of Netflix surged following blockbuster results, limiting losses on the S&P 500 and Nasdaq, shares of SanDisk slumped following a weak revenue outlook that added to concerns about the pace of top-line improvement.
First-quarter earnings for S&P 500 companies are expected to have declined 2.6 percent from a year ago, according to Thomson Reuters data, hurt by low oil prices, a strong dollar and extreme weather in the eastern United States. Revenue is forecast down 2.8 percent from a year ago.
Major indexes are about 1 percent below record highs despite concerns about weakness in first-quarter earnings. That may suggest a profit decline has already been priced into shares, said Bucky Hellwig, senior vice president at BB&T Wealth Management in Birmingham, Alabama.
“It’s still undetermined whether the first-quarter weakness was weather-related or because of a slowdown,” Hellwig said.
Netflix was the S&P’s biggest percentage gainer, up 15 percent at $544.80, a day after it added more subscribers than projected in the first quarter. Volume was more than three times its 10-day moving average.
Shares of Etsy Inc, an online marketplace for handmade goods and crafts, were up 88 percent at $30.10 in their debut on Thursday.
SanDisk was the benchmark index’s biggest decliner, off 4.4 percent at $67.92, after its forecast.
At 1:04 p.m., the Dow Jones industrial average fell 2.97 points, or 0.02 percent, to 18,109.64, the S&P 500 lost 0.8 points, or 0.04 percent, to 2,105.83 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 3.04 points, or 0.06 percent, to 5,007.98.
Corporate results so far are showing little organic growth even as they largely beat profit expectations.
Of the 51 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported thus far, 76.5 percent exceeded profit expectations, well above the long-term average of 63 percent. Only 47.1 percent have beaten on revenue, however, below the historical average of 61 percent. That suggests companies are boosting their bottom lines with cost cuts rather than through business expansion.
Among other notable earnings, UnitedHealth Group Inc reported strong earnings and revenue growth, sending shares up 3.4 percent to $121.39. Goldman Sachs fell 0.5 percent to $200.09 despite better-than-expected earnings. Both are Dow components.
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by 1,736 to 1,190, for a 1.46-to-1 ratio; on the Nasdaq, 1,455 issues fell and 1,205 advanced, for a 1.21-to-1 ratio.
The S&P 500 was posting 7 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite was recording 70 new highs and 13 new lows. (Additional reporting by Ryan Vlastelica; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Nick Zieminski)