Opinion: Big Tech shows its good to be big, as growth slowdown leads to stock gains while smaller rivals find only pain

Opinion: Big Tech shows its good to be big, as growth slowdown leads to stock gains while smaller rivals find only pain

After soaring double-digit growth during the pandemic, earnings from America’s five biggest tech giants this week showed a slowdown as they grapple with inflation, a looming recession and a general slowing economy, but they have been amply rewarded by Wall Street because their size shows their strength.

Over the past week, all of Big Tech has released second quarter results, and results have been mixed, with a big misfire at Meta Platforms Inc. META,
-1.01%
marring the combined results. But even with the best results from Apple Inc. AAPL,
+3.28%,
Alphabet Inc.GOOG,
+1.79%
GOOGL,
+1.84%,
Amazon.com Inc. AMZN,
+10.36%,
and Microsoft Corp. MSFT,
+1.57%,
total combined revenue was $354.5 billion, before traffic acquisition costs at Alphabet, posting a combined growth rate of 6.91%, versus $331.64 billion in revenue combined business in the June quarter a year ago.

Each giant had slower revenue growth, and Meta records its first drop in revenue. And while analysts touted Apple’s iPhone as ‘resilient’ amid deep economic uncertainty, revenue growth in the June quarter was anemic at 2%. Revenue in its June quarter a year ago rose 36% in contrast. Alphabet, which saw its total revenue increase before the TAC increased 62% in the June quarter of the previous year, recorded a 13% growth in revenue, or 16% in constant currency, as digital ad spend declined. Amazon saw revenue grow 7% slightly better than expected, compared to revenue growth of 27% in the second quarter of the previous year. But CEO Andy Jassy made a hopeful statement, saying he saw revenue accelerating, which also helped.

Worse still, the profits. As Amazon reports another net loss from its Rivian Automotive RIVN,
+1.34%
investment and Meta reporting a whopping 36% drop in net profit, Big Five net profit totaled $56.9 billion, down 24% from net profit of $74.9 billion a year ago year as rising costs reduced their results, as well as less revenue growth.

Meta’s sharp drop in net profit, after a 101% jump in second-quarter net profit a year ago, was particularly precipitous as the company blithely spends on CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s unproven vision of the Metaverse. Its Reality Labs, the business unit focused on virtual and augmented reality, posted a loss of $2.8 billion, on revenue of $452 million. Ad revenue was unable to fully compensate and fell slightly, amid comments from Zuckerberg saying the situation was worse than it looked a quarter ago.

Still, Meta stock will end July as a mostly balanced month, down less than 1%, down less than 1%, and this is the worst performance of the Big Five. Apple stock rose more than 19% in July, Amazon gained more than 28%, Microsoft rose 9% and Alphabet rose nearly 7%, all gaining after their earnings reports, at the exception of Meta.

Facebook’s parent company was spared the slaughter of other digital ad-based companies, such as Snap Inc. SNAP,
+2.17%,
whose stock will end July down almost 25%, continuing a rapid decline that includes a 50% drop in May, after executives warned of the big ad slowdown also affecting Google and Facebook.

This split between dominant Big Tech platforms and smaller companies trying to compete is likely to continue. While they all see slow growth and have unclear prospects for the immediate future, the sheer size and billions of dollars generated by Big Tech in revenue and revenues will continue to primarily insulate these giants from the type of pain that Wall Street distributes to Snap, Roku Inc. ROKU,
-23.07%
and others.

To find out more: Find out more Roku’s ‘Frankly Horrible’ Earnings

It should be remembered that for the whole of 2021, the Big Five recorded year-on-year revenue growth of 27% and skyrocketing net income growth of 55%, as they collectively exceeded $1.4 trillion in revenue for the year. At the time, MarketWatch pointed out that this was not normal growth, and indeed, this may have been the year that technology jumped the shark.

With the resounding themes of most conference calls about reining in, cost cutting, hiring slowdowns or layoffs, and macroeconomic uncertainty, investors mostly seemed happy to avoid worse outcomes. than expected for Big Tech. For the rest of the tech, however, there are many more questions to come as we move forward into earnings season with many more reports to come.

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