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Key Takeaways From the Big Tech Earnings

10/29/2020 | 07:34pm

By George Stahl

So, after all that, what did we learn?

--We learned that Amazon can post some mind-boggling numbers (https://www.wsj.com/articles/amazon-sales-surge-amid-pandemic-driven-online-shopping-11604003107). Its sales increased by $26 billion, or 37%, in the third quarter from a year earlier, and the company added 50% more staff over the past year. And this quarter could be bigger. "We're seeing more customers than ever shopping early for their holiday gifts, which is just one of the signs that this is going to be an unprecedented holiday season," Amazon Chief Executive Jeff Bezos said. The company expects sales of more than $112 billion this quarter.

--We learned that users and advertisers are attracted to YouTube (https://www.wsj.com/articles/google-alphabet-googl-3q-earnings-report-2020-11603988595), which pulled in more than $5 billion in advertising for the first time, up 32% from a year ago. Meanwhile, do-it-yourself face mask tutorials have been viewed more than 1 billion times on the service. Overall, digital ad revenue returned to growth for Google parent Alphabet after a dip negative in July. "We're pleased the way advertisers have reactivated their budgets," said Chief Financial Officer Ruth Porat.

--We learned that Apple is under pressure to deliver strong iPhone sales this quarter (https://www.wsj.com/articles/apple-aapl-4q-earnings-report-2020-11604003762). iPhone revenue fell 21% in the quarter that ended in September, worse than analysts had expected, as the company didn't unveil the iPhone 12 until October. That means Wall Street will want the $2 trillion company to deliver on those iPhone sales this quarter, even though some versions of the iPhone 12 aren't available until next month. "We're really off to a great start," Chief Financial Officer Luca Maestri said in an interview Thursday.

--We learned that Facebook can still do pretty good (https://www.wsj.com/articles/facebook-fb-3q-earnings-report-2020-11603992607), even with government scrutiny and ad boycotts. Revenue jumped 22% to $21.47 billion in the three months through September, and the company said revenue will grow even faster during the fourth quarter, as the holiday season bolsters ad spending. Facebook's total user numbers grew in every market except the U.S., where the number of daily active users dropped to 255 million from 256 million.

--We learned that Twitter remains far behind the other tech companies (https://www.wsj.com/articles/twitter-twtr-3q-earnings-report-2020-11604005611) that reported earnings Thursday. Twitter posted its slowest user growth in years and warned that uncertainty surrounding the U.S. election could weigh on ad spending in the current quarter. The company added one million daily users from the previous quarter to 187 million, the smallest increase since late 2017, the earliest period that Twitter has provided such data. Analysts polled by FactSet had expected the user count to rise to 196 million. Its stock fell 17% in after-hours trading.

--We learned that it takes more than strong year-over-year growth to satisfy investors. Apple (down 4%), Amazon (down 1.5%) and Facebook (down 2.6%) each saw their stock fall in after-hours trading. Of course, though, each stock also has had a strong year so far. Before the earnings reports, Apple was up 57% in 2020, Amazon 74% and Facebook 37%. In contrast, Alphabet rose nearly 7% but was only up 16% in 2020.

And now we learned that this event has concluded. Thanks, all, for following along.

NOTE: In-line links reference additional content of interest chosen by the WSJ news team.

This item is part of a Wall Street Journal live coverage event. The full stream can be found by searching P/WSJL (WSJ Live Coverage).

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

10-29-20 2033ET

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