What Worries? Big Tech Companies Post Glowing Quarterly Profits

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“I do not see, to be honest, anything between Amazon and a trillion-dollar market valuation except D.C. and Brussels, and at this point it looks more likely that it’s Brussels,” Mr. Galloway said, referring to the headquarters of the European Union.

Amazon showed on Thursday how it continues to play by rules that cause fits of despair among conventional retailers. For a company its size and age, it reports meager profits, choosing to plow the cash generated by its business into new growth initiatives like video streaming and devices.

Amazon said its net income for the quarter that ended Sept. 30 was $256 million, or 52 cents a share, compared with $252 million, also 52 cents a share, during the same period last year.

But Amazon also gave investors the numbers they love to see, a 34 percent jump to $43.7 billion in revenue, as it continued to nibble away at the pocketbooks of customers. The company’s cloud computing business, Amazon Web Services, jumped 30 percent to $4.58 billion in revenue, which Wall Street loves because it accounts for most of what little profit the company reports.

Amazon’s recent acquisition of Whole Foods Markets has sparked concerns from rivals that the company could become a terrifying new force in the huge category of grocery retailing. During the quarter, Amazon said, Whole Foods added $1.3 billion to its overall revenue.

The most remarkable sign of Amazon’s growth may be its rise in head count, most of which occurs in its warehouses. At the end of September, Amazon had 541,900 employees, up 77 percent from a year earlier.

The average earnings estimate compiled from analysts by Thomson Reuters was 3 cents a share, and the average revenue estimate was $42.14 billion.

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Next week, Google’s top lawyer, along with general counsels from Facebook and Twitter, will testify in front of lawmakers investigating how Russia used social media and technology platforms in the United States to influence the 2016 election.

But as Alphabet reported another blockbuster earnings result on the back of strong sales of search advertising, the inquiry and any potential fallout were not discussed.

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On a conference call with financial analysts, Ruth Porat, Alphabet’s chief financial officer, and Sundar Pichai, Google’s chief executive officer, were not asked about Google’s pending appearance before Congress.

Unlike Amazon, Alphabet gushed profits. Alphabet reported net income of $6.73 billion, or $9.57 a share — surpassing Wall Street’s earnings forecasts by more than a dollar. The company is bringing in more revenue — up 24 percent — while squeezing more profit from every dollar it brings in.

In July, when Alphabet previously reported quarterly results, investors shrugged off a $2.7 billion fine from the European Commission, the European Union’s administrative arm. The fine temporarily hit the company’s bottom line but did little to slow revenue growth or demand for its advertising.

Alphabet accounts for about 32 percent of all global digital advertising spending, according to research firm eMarketer. When it is combined with Facebook, the pair account for roughly half of all internet ad spending in the world.

With earnings showing no signs of slowing, Alphabet continues to amass a cash war chest. The company’s stockpile of cash and marketable securities topped $100 billion — or roughly the market value of Goldman Sachs.

Microsoft is mentioned less frequently as a potential target for regulators, in part because it already went through an agonizing antitrust saga in the 1990s and 2000s, one that hobbled it when big shifts in technology were looming.

But in the past several years, Microsoft’s chief executive, Satya Nadella, has revived the company, in part by redoubling its focus on cloud computing, where it has emerged as a credible No. 2 competitor to Amazon.

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While Microsoft is not the fearsome leviathan it once was, it is still a moneymaking machine. On Thursday, the Redmond, Wash., company reported net income of $6.58 billion, or 85 cents a share, up from $5.67 billion, or 73 cents a share, the previous year. Revenue was up 12 percent to $24.54 billion.

The average earnings estimate compiled by Thomson Reuters was 72 cents a share, with revenue of $23.56 billion. Its shares jumped 3 percent.

Microsoft executives credited much of the company’s success in the quarter to growth in its cloud computing business, which encompasses everything from online storage to internet-based versions of Microsoft’s Office applications that customers subscribe to rather than purchase.

The company said its commercial cloud business had brought in $5 billion in revenue, up 56 percent from the previous year.

While Microsoft’s attempts at selling some kinds of devices have been a disappointment — its foray into making smartphones was a bomb — its Surface line of computers showed positive results, rising 12 percent to $1.04 billion in revenue.


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