Big Tech on defense: Apple, Amazon and Google report earnings

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A view of the new iPhone 14 at an Apple event at their headquarters in Cupertino, California, on September 7, 2022.
A view of the new iPhone 14 at an Apple event at their headquarters in Cupertino, California, on September 7, 2022. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)

Thursday afternoon will round out what has so far been a sobering earnings season for the Big Tech giants.

After several years of raking in profits thanks to strong demand for tech gadgets and services during the pandemic, the industry’s fortunes began to turn last year. Tech giants have been grappling with high inflation and interest rates, as well as increased competition and declining demand in consumer and digital ad markets.

Alphabet, Amazon and Apple are set to report earnings after the bell Thursday and all eyes will be scrutinizing the results to see how those challenges affected the crucial December quarter.

Wall Street does not appear to have high hopes.

What to expect: Apple is projected to post its first quarterly revenue decline since 2019 — a drop of 2% compared to the same period in the prior year. Alphabet’s revenue will likely remain flat from last year and Amazon’s sales are expected to grow just shy of 6% year-over-year. All three companies’ profits are expected to fall from the year-ago quarter, with Amazon set to suffer the steepest drop with a decline of 40.6%.

Thursday’s reports are likely to be another sign that tech giants are no longer as immune to economic changes as in years’ past. “Apple proved more resilient than its Big Tech peers in the last quarter, but this earnings season could be tougher,” Joshua Warner, market analyst at investment firm StoneX, said in a statement earlier this week. Most of Amazon’s businesses, he said, “are also finding it harder to grow in these tougher economic conditions, and Amazon has already warned it will deliver the slowest revenue growth on record for any holiday shopping season.”

Many major tech firms, including Microsoft, Google, Meta and Amazon, have in recent months announced plans to lay off tens of thousands of workers. (Apple, so far, is the one major exception to this trend). Thursday’s reports should give Amazon and Alphabet shareholders a glimpse of how soon the tech giants will realize the benefits of those cost cuts — and if they’ll be enough to weather the uncertain period ahead.

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