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Big Tech beats pandemic, ad boycotts to log record profits

A pandemic-hit period, ad boycotts and probes over anti-competition practices, data privacy and security did not stop the four Big Tech firms (Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Alphabet with a combined market cap of nearly $5 trillion) from posting healthy profits in the June quarter.

Riding on surging online sales during the pandemic as people stayed home, Amazon reported a 40 per cent increase in net sales to $88.9 billion, compared with $63.4 billion in the same period last year.

Net income increased to $5.2 billion in the second quarter, compared with net income of $2.6 billion in the second quarter 2019, the company said in a statement on Thursday. Amazon shares rose 5 per cent in the after-hours trade.

The cloud computing arm Amazon Web Services (AWS) reported revenues of $10.81 billion for the quarter, up 29 per cent year over year.

“This was another highly unusual quarter, and I couldn’t be more proud of and grateful to our employees around the globe,” said Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO.

“As expected, we spent over $4 billion on incremental Covid-19-related costs in the quarter to help keep employees safe and deliver products to customers in this time of high demand,” added Bezos who faced five-hour long grilling along with Apple’s Tim Cook, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Alphabet’s Sundar Pichai at the US Congress on Wednesday.

Apple posted $59.7 billion in revenue for its fiscal 2020 third quarter that ended June 27, an increase of 11 per cent from the year-ago quarter, as iPhone sales beat the Wall Street estimates.

Apple’s board of directors also approved a four-for-one stock split, effective from August 31.

“Apple’s record June quarter was driven by double-digit growth in both Products and Services and growth in each of our geographic segments,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook.

“In uncertain times, this performance is a testament to the important role our products play in our customers’ lives and to Apple’s relentless innovation,” he said in a statement.

iPhone sales were $26.4 billion, iPad revenue was $6.6 billion while Mac revenue reached $7.1 billion.

Facing a massive ad boycott over its inaction to remove hate speech, Facebook shares surged over 7 per cent after the social network reported net income of $5.18 billion as revenue jumped 11 per cent to $18.69 billion from $16.89 billion a year ago.

“We’re glad to be able to provide small businesses the tools they need to grow and be successful online during these challenging times,” said Facebook Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

“We’re proud that people can rely on our services to stay connected when they can’t always be together in person”.

The monthly active users (MAUs) hit 2.7 billion while daily active users (DAUs) rose 12 per cent to 1.79 billion (as of June 30).

Facebook said it counts 3.14 billion monthly users across its family of apps (Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp), compared to 2.99 billion in the first quarter.

Despite strong growth in Google Cloud, Alphabet which is the parent company of Google saw its revenue declining for the first time to $38.3 billion (down 1.7 per cent from the year-ago period) in the quarter that ended June 30.

The company reported a net income of $6.96 billion in Q2.

Alphabet shares were up less than 1 per cent after the Q2 earnings report.

“We’re working to help people, businesses and communities in these uncertain times,” said Alphabet and Google CEO Sundar Pichai.

“As people increasingly turn to online services, our platforms – from Cloud to Google Play to YouTube – are helping our partners provide important services and support their businesses,” Pichai added.

Google Cloud registered revenue of $3 billion (a massive 43 per cent growth).

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