|Day's Range||309.30 - 309.30|
Yahoo Finance catches up quickly with Slack co-founder Stewart Butterfield in the wake of the company announcing its sixth-ever acquisition.
Google (GOOGL) takes the last letter among FAANG stocks and indeed in 2020 it is currently in last place among its peers where market performance is concerned. While some tech giants have been notching all-time highs almost every other day recently, Google has relatively underperformed. That said, the internet giant is only a touch away from its all time highs of $1,530 per share, and with a 12% gain year-to-date, it is way too early to call in the search engine doctor.However, Brian White, analyst at investment firm Monness, notes other areas Google needs to keep a close eye on.“For the foreseeable future,” said the 5-star analyst, “We anticipate Alphabet will struggle with weak digital ad spending trends and other headwinds.”The recent ad boycott on Facebook, while yet to impact Google, does leave other platforms vulnerable to further boycott action, with YouTube, according to White, the most at risk from a wider ban. On the flip side, with ad spend on Facebook reduced, companies’ ad budgets could be siphoned off in other directions, which could be beneficial to Google.Still, with COVID-19 showing no signs of retreating just yet, slashed ad budgets could be a theme for the foreseeable future. A post-COVID world could usher in changes that might not have been considered in the pre-pandemic climate.“Given the weak economic environment and the expansion of this COVID-19 crisis across more parts of the country, a pause in spending could turn into something that lasts longer than expected given a lack of urgency to return to previous spending levels. Moreover, there is a risk that some companies spending less on advertising, notice little impact on revenue from their cutbacks, resulting in less ambitious ad spending budgets in the future,” White summarizedAll in all, White maintains a Buy rating along with a $1,420 price target. Therefore, the analyst anticipates shares declining by 5.5% over the coming months. (To watch White’s track record, click here)Most on the Street keep a Buy rating, too – in fact, 29 out of the 31 analysts to post a Google review over the last 3 months suggest just that – with the remaining 2 recommending a Hold. GOOGL's strong Buy consensus rating is backed by a $1,527.66 price target – suggesting an all-time high is possible, although the figures implies a modest upside of 2% from current levels. (See GOOGL stock analysis on TipRanks)To find good ideas for stocks trading at attractive valuations, visit TipRanks’ Best Stocks to Buy, a newly launched tool that unites all of TipRanks’ equity insights. More recent articles from Smarter Analyst: * Altra Industrial Motion's (AIMC) Valuation Is Appealing, Says Analyst * Upwork’s Potential Is Underappreciated, Says Analyst * Tesla China Sales Of Model 3 Vehicles Up 35% In June * Walgreens Plans To Expand 700 Stores Into Primary Care Clinics
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Time will be the next frontier in India’s digital battlefield; dollars will follow the hours consumers spend online.India has left a void in their day by banning 59 Chinese apps after a border dispute with its northern neighbor led to violent clashes. The video-sharing platform TikTok, which became a craze in towns and villages as a medium of expression, is gone. So are its smaller cousins, like Bigo Live and Likee.What can fill the gap? Thanks to the world’s cheapest data charges of 9 cents per gigabyte, Indian smartphone users are guzzling content for six hours plus. For local startups like Glance, which offers games, news and video on the mobile lock-screen, the ban on Chinese competition is a chance to add to its tally of 100 million daily active users. The country’s youth bulge also makes it a perfect occasion for homegrown education technology unicorns like Byju to scale up.But the ultimate prize may go to super-apps that meld content and commerce in the 16 Indian languages besides English that boast anywhere between 5 million to half a billion speakers. To not have to download multiple apps to do different things will save phone memory, an important consideration for those who access the internet on low-end devices. Tencent Holdings Ltd.’s WeChat, which offers everything from messaging to gaming and financial services, provides a successful template. Chinese users are also online for six hours a day, mostly to browse content, particularly social media. Although only 4% of their time is spent on e-commerce, it’s enough to drive $1.5 trillion in annual online sales. The smaller Indian market, with online sales of $40 billion, will want to copy the playbook. The most obvious super-app candidate is billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s Jio Platforms Ltd., a four-year-old startup with an equity value of $65 billion, including more than $15 billion recently raised from investors including Facebook Inc., KKR & Co. and Silver Lake Partners. Before Jio eventually seeks a listing on Nasdaq or the New York Stock Exchange, Ambani would probably want it ready as a carriage-content-and-commerce powerhouse for half-a-billion people.Jio’s 4G telecom service already has roughly 400 million subscribers, though they currently don’t even pay $2 a month. The trick to a $100 billion-plus initial public offering would lie in using the partnership with Facebook to introduce features such as the WeChat mini-program via the popular WhatsApp messaging service. It lets users book hotels, order taxis, explore augmented reality to try on a new L’Oreal beauty product, or test-drive a Tesla — without leaving WeChat. When it comes to building product awareness and interest, these embedded mini-apps in China are now a fourth as effective as regular online stores run by JD.com Inc. and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., according to McKinsey & Co. They will offer brands in India a chance to sell more — and more profitably — even in remote towns. The consulting firm found that younger consumers in smaller Chinese cities give more weight to advice from social-media influencers and referrals by friends than their counterparts in larger metropolitan areas. This will probably hold true for India as well. As for the actual commerce, JioMart, Ambani’s new e-commerce platform, would take orders and — if the regulator permits it — accept payments via WhatsApp. Staples could be delivered by traditional neighborhood stores, with Jio helping connect them to buyers. For discretionary products, Ambani may use his Reliance Retail Ltd., already the country’s largest bricks-and-mortar retailer. It won’t be too hard to grease the wheels of super-app commerce with credit. Local lenders will be desperate for a new source of balance-sheet expansion after absorbing inevitable losses from the pandemic and lockdown. Still, the road to satisfied digital customers will be long and bumpy because of India’s creaky infrastructure. Keeping users hooked with novel content will therefore be crucial. Facebook is building a new version of Quest virtual reality headsets; the Silicon Valley firm is also acquiring studios that make VR games. Jio, which wants its set-top box to support online gaming, could find opportunities for collaboration.However, the main entertainment fare will still be cricket and Bollywood. Last year, Ambani promised Jio First Day First Show — movies streamed to broadband customers on the day of their theater release. With Covid-19 shutting down cinemas, producers in India need digital alternatives; audiences need their fix. Although Ambani appears to be ahead, his won’t be India’s only super-app. Amazon.com Inc. has pledged to invest $5.5 billion in the country, while Walmart Inc. has plowed in $16 billion to acquire local e-commerce leader Flipkart Online Services Pvt. Potentially, they — or Alphabet Inc.’s Google — could seek telecom and digital media partners.Western tech firms were broadly shut out of China’s digital revolution. In India, they’ll join the fray, hoping for insights that will come in handy in other emerging markets. But India will still prefer local control over the super-apps. Six hours a day of 1.3 billion people — and all the data that flows from it — is a coveted resource, something politicians won’t want slipping out of their sphere of influence. This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Andy Mukherjee is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering industrial companies and financial services. He previously was a columnist for Reuters Breakingviews. He has also worked for the Straits Times, ET NOW and Bloomberg News.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Alphabet (GOOGL) closed at $1,503.60 in the latest trading session, marking a +0.92% move from the prior day.
(Bloomberg) -- Google abandoned plans to offer a major new cloud service in China and other politically sensitive countries due in part to concerns over geopolitical tensions and the pandemic, according to two employees familiar with the matter, revealing the challenges for U.S. tech giants to secure business in those markets.In May, the search giant shut down the initiative, known as “Isolated Region” and which sought to address nations’ desires to control data within their borders, the employees said. The action was considered a “massive strategy shift,” according to one of the employees, who said Isolated Region had involved hundreds of workers scattered around the world.Alphabet Inc.’s Google is pouring money into cloud computing, part of a broader effort to find new sources of growth beyond search advertising. Google Cloud generated $8.9 billion in revenue in 2019 -- a 53% increase over the previous year -- as it has pushed into sectors such as finance and government that require special security clearance and features that shield confidential data. Rivals Microsoft Corp. and Amazon.com Inc. already offer these capabilities via their cloud units.Google’s recent decision to nix the Isolated Region project was made partly because of global political divisions, which were exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the two employees, who requested anonymity because the project hasn’t previously been made public. The geopolitical issues placed demands on Isolated Region that it couldn’t deliver, according to one of the employees. Documents provided to workers also detailed global tensions and their influence on Isolated Region’s closure, the employee said.The initiative would have allowed Google to set up cloud services controlled by a third party, such as a locally owned company or a government agency. The result would be a business sequestered from Google’s existing cloud computing services, which include data centers and computer networks.In January 2019, amid growing tensions between the U.S. and China, Google decided to pause its plans for Isolated Region in China and instead began to prioritize potential customers in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, according to the two employees. But the project was scrapped entirely this May, the two employees said. Google has since weighed a pared back cloud offering to enter China, according to the two employees.‘Other Approaches’A Google spokeswoman, speaking after the story was published, said Isolated Region wasn’t shut down over geopolitical concerns or the pandemic. She also said the company isn’t weighing options to offer the Google Cloud Platform in China.Isolated Region was shelved because “other approaches we were actively pursuing offered better outcomes,” she said, declining to detail those approaches. “We have a comprehensive approach to addressing these requirements that covers the governance of data, operational practices and survivability of software,” the spokeswoman said. “Isolated Region was just one of the paths we explored to address these requirements.”“What we learned from customer conversations and input from government stakeholders in Europe and elsewhere is that other approaches we were actively pursuing offered better outcomes,” the spokeswoman said. “Google does not offer and has not offered cloud platform services inside China.” According to one of the employees, the plan involved selling cloud services in what Google calls “sovereignty sensitive markets,” such as China and the E.U., where there are strict laws for companies offering services that involve the collection or processing of people’s data.The project, which began in early 2018, sought to address rules in China that require Western companies to form a joint venture with a Chinese partner company when they provide data or networking services, one of the employees said. In such a relationship, the partner company would have retained both physical and administrative control over user data. The arrangement was intended to satisfy Chinese authorities while also providing a barrier between Google’s Isolated Region cloud services and the rest of its data center network, which stores and processes emails, documents, photographs and other data from its users, the employee said.By handing over control of user data to third party companies in foreign countries, Isolated Region also aimed to appease privacy concerns about the U.S. government’s potential ability to carry out covert surveillance of Google’s Cloud services, the employee said. Those concerns increased in March 2018, following the passing of the Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data Act, better known as the CLOUD Act, a federal law that granted U.S. law enforcement agencies more power to request personal data stored by American technology companies even if the data is stored on servers located outside of the U.S., the employee said.Data SovereigntySome employees expressed concern about the Cloud project in China and questioned their superiors about it, according to one of the employees. But it’s not known if employee opposition was a factor in Google’s decision to stop the initiative in China or elsewhere.Isolated Region was part of a larger Google project known as “Sharded Google,” which has sought to develop new data storage and processing facilities, known as “shards,” that are walled off from the rest of the company’s systems, according to the employees.Major cloud providers are all racing to develop data centers that are either physically separated or rely on complex software to keep information flows apart.It’s a costly process, driven by rising demand on two fronts. One is from firms in specific industries, such as finance, that want isolated machinery for security reasons. Another comes from laws that require data reaped inside the country to stay there, with China being perhaps the most stringent example.Both trends are accelerating. More than 100 countries have some sort of data sovereignty laws in place, according to David Gilmore, chief executive officer of DataFleets Ltd., an enterprise software firm. In the U.S., state policies, such as California’s new consumer privacy law, provide further restrictions on how cloud companies handle data. “It’s just the tip of the iceberg,” he said.France and Germany recently started Gaia-X, an effort to build the continent’s own data storage systems over the internet without relying on U.S. technology giants.Cloud RegionsProtectionism is a major force in these calls for data localization, said Trey Herr, director for the cyber statecraft initiative at the Atlantic Council. “Part of it is security,” he said. “A lot of it is economic.”Google’s competitors in this space, such as Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure, have dominated the market in recent years. Cloud regions let companies offer the horsepower and security of multiple data centers. Microsoft has more than 60 cloud regions globally, more than double AWS and Google. The Google spokeswoman said the company defines regions differently.In 2018, Google considered building an isolated version of its systems to support a classified U.S. government computer network. The system, known as “air gap,” would have been disconnected from the internet and from Google’s existing servers, and was designed to be used only on high-security government networks that store secret information.But the air gap project was shelved after internal opposition. Some employees said they feared the system would lead to work with the U.S. military, which they opposed for ethical reasons. Other employees opposed it on technical grounds and thought it would be too hard to deliver.In China, Google has long been eyeing ways to access the country’s lucrative marketplace, where there are approximately 900 million internet users. While Amazon and Microsoft sell their cloud services in mainland China, Google hasn’t. But about three years ago, the company began talks with Chinese firms about providing its main data storage service in the nation through a joint venture, as Amazon and Microsoft do. Google also provided some of its free machine learning tools in China, and the company started working on projects to provide more software tools to developers there.Most of those efforts, however, were shut down by Google Cloud Chief Executive Officer Thomas Kurian, shortly after he took over the division in January 2019, according to one person involved in the plans. At that time, political and economic tensions between the U.S. and China were rising. In addition, Google’s actions in the country had come under increased scrutiny, following leaks about a plan for a censored Chinese version of its search engine.Isolation Region was conceived as another potential product for Google to offer in China, according to one of the Google employees. But key political impediments contributed to the decline of the project in China and elsewhere, including the U.S. national security orders against China telecommunications giant Huawei Technologies Co. and the fallout from the pandemic, according to the employee; Google disputes that the pandemic or geopolitical issues were factors.Kurian didn’t scrap all of Google Cloud’s China-related work. According to one of the Google employees, and another person familiar with Google’s cloud operations, the company has continued to explore the possibility of rolling out a service called Anthos in the country. Launched in 2019, Anthos lets companies using one cloud provider easily add on another. Businesses across the globe have adapted this strategy as a way to hedge financial and infrastructure risk. The Google spokeswoman said the company has no plans to provide Anthos in China.In a September 2019 interview with CNBC, Kurian said that Google’s cloud business was seeing “enormous growth” and hadn’t been affected by the U.S. trade war with China. He pointed to the company’s large presence in Hong Kong and Taiwan and didn’t rule out expanding into China’s cloud market. “We continue to monitor the demand for our technology from Chinese customers,” he said.(Updates with additional comments from Google starting in the sixth paragraph.)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Earlier in the day, Bloomberg News reported, citing two employees, that Google had shelved the project in China and other politically sensitive countries in May, partly due to rising geopolitical tensions and the pandemic. The search engine giant, however, said that the project's shutdown was not due to either of those two reasons and that it has not offered cloud platform services in China.
(Bloomberg) -- Digital advertising platforms run by Google, Amazon.com Inc. and other tech companies will funnel at least $25 million to websites spreading misinformation about Covid-19 this year, according to a study released Wednesday.Google’s platforms will provide $19 million, or $3 out of every $4 that the misinformation sites get in ad revenue. OpenX, a smaller digital ad distributor, handles about 10% of the money, while Amazon’s technology delivers roughly $1.7 million, or 7%, of the digital marketing spending these sites will receive, according to a research group called the Global Disinformation Index.GDI made the estimates in a study that analyzed ads running between January and June on 480 English language websites identified as publishers of virus misinformation. Some of the ads were for brands including cosmetics giant L’Oreal SA, furniture website Wayfair Inc. and imaging technology company Canon Inc. The data exclude social-media and online-video services, so the true total is likely much higher.“This report is flawed in that it neither defines what should be considered disinformation nor are its revenue calculations transparent or realistic,” a Google spokesperson said.The company doesn’t check whether websites are publishing truthful or accurate information before running ads. However, the internet giant reviewed 10 articles highlighted by the study where Google ads ran. It demonetized five of the web pages, meaning it removed the ability to make money from ads. “Google has strict publisher policies designed to prevent harmful, dangerous and fraudulent content from monetizing. We also continue to take an aggressive approach to COVID-19 content that makes harmful medical claims contradicting the guidance of global health authorities,” the spokesperson added. Amazon did not respond to requests for comment. Governments and health officials are still learning more about the virus, and this has allowed misinformation to flourish online. Silicon Valley giants have pledged to crack down, and Alphabet Inc.’s Google has removed ads from sites that violate its policies. However, GDI thinks these platforms need to do more to limit the spread of misinformation.“The difference between what the companies say publicly about their dedication to not monetizing hate speech and harmful content, especially around the pandemic, is not matching up with what our data is telling us that’s actually happening,” said Danny Rogers, co-founder of the Global Disinformation Index.In an ad delivered on May 19 by Amazon, a L’Oreal product was promoted on Americanthinker.com next to an article titled “Is Big Pharma Suppressing Hydroxychloroquine?” Earlier this month, Google served up a Bloomberg News ad on the website Bigleaguepolitics.com, according to the GDI report.The Global Disinformation Index is a U.K.-based research group that provides disinformation risk ratings on media sites all over the world. GDI said it presented Google, Amazon and OpenX with the latest findings from its report and none of the tech companies provided a formal response. The group updates its research weekly and often tells tech companies when their platforms place ads on misinformation sites.The research group releases this information, in part, as a way to alert advertisers when their marketing spots show up on this kind of website. These brands can help by pulling ads from tech platforms when they see issues like this, Rogers said.(Updates with no comment from Amazon in sixth paragraph)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Some of Wall Street’s biggest stocks are coming off their best quarterly performance in years, and with the broader economy still grappling with the pandemic, analysts are starting to express some skepticism about high-profile rallies.The S&P 500 surged 20% in the second quarter, its biggest quarterly gain since 1998. While the superlative nature of the rally was partly a function of timing -- many components hit a bottom right before the end of the first quarter -- the move was fueled by tech and internet stocks, which outperformed the benchmark and have heavy weightings due to their massive market capitalizations.Apple and Amazon.com both gained more than 40% during the quarter, making it the iPhone maker’s best quarter since 2012 and Amazon’s best since 2010.On Wednesday, Deutsche Bank confessed it was “surprised at both the speed and magnitude of the rebound” in Apple shares, adding that the move “has us nervous.” Raymond James echoed this tone on Tuesday, seeing uncertainty surrounding Apple’s forecast given an expected delay in the iPhone 12, a product Nomura Instinet expects “will fall short of a supercycle.” Both Deutsche Bank and Raymond James still recommend buying Apple shares.Amazon remains a consensus favorite on Wall Street -- more than 90% of the firms tracked by Bloomberg recommend buying it -- but the degree to which the share price exceeds analysts’ average price target is near a multiyear high, suggesting that even bulls aren’t expecting much additional upside.Among other mega-cap names, Microsoft rose 29% over the second quarter, its best such showing since 2009. Both Facebook and Google-parent Alphabet notched their biggest quarterly gain since 2013, with Facebook up 36% and Alphabet up 22%, based on its Class A shares. Netflix rose 21% last quarter.All are at or near record levels, and the rallies will soon be tested as each member of the group is scheduled to post quarterly results before the end of the month, with Microsoft and Netflix reporting next week.Apple EstimatesFor Apple, the rally has come despite a more tepid view for its upcoming results. Wall Street expects third-quarter earnings, excluding some items, of $2.03 a share, a consensus that is down 6.8% from where it was three months ago. The consensus for revenue has declined 0.9% over the same period.While analysts debate whether the results will justify the recent gains, many of these names are seen as potential pandemic winners. Microsoft is expected to see stronger demand for its cloud-computing and workplace collaboration products as people continue to work remotely, while the e-commerce wave lifting Amazon and others is seen as outlasting the coronavirus’s impact on brick-and-mortar stores.Apple analysts also see a number of reasons to be optimistic for the long term, including the company’s services business, wearable products, and its stock-buyback program. “Overall, we believe the directionality and reasoning behind AAPL’s stock rise,” Deutsche Bank’s Jeriel Ong wrote. Still, the firm has “ambivalence at these levels.”Firms expressed a similar sentiment about Netflix, which has seen higher engagement during the pandemic. Rosenblatt Securities “struggle[s] to see the upside” from current levels given “uncertainty over how [long] this favorable environment will last.” Stifel continues “to grapple with the risk/reward profile given limited 2H visibility.”Imperial Capital downgraded the stock earlier this week, moving away from an outperform rating that it had held since starting coverage on Netflix about two years ago, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Following the recent advance, Netflix “will begin a fairly extensive range-bound trend as other long opportunities emerge in the media space,” the firm said.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Nvidia Corp.’s market valuation topped Intel Corp.’s for the first time, powered by soaring demand for graphics chips in data centers and other fast-growing technology fields.Nvidia gained 2.4% on Wednesday, giving it a market value of more than $248 billion. Shares of the graphics chipmaker are up 72% so far this year as investors bet the coronavirus pandemic has accelerated a shift to cloud-based digital services that use its technology. Intel shares have fallen 2% in 2020.Nvidia was co-founded in 1993 by Jensen Huang, who’s still running the company. At the time, it was one of about two dozen graphics chip companies. It’s now the only independent maker of these components, after all of its rivals have been bought, folded or become part of larger companies.Nvidia was more successful than its peers at developing chips that turn computer code into the realistic images computer gamers love. Under Huang, the company has pushed that technology into new markets, such as data center servers and artificial intelligence processing.In just five years, Nvidia’s data center business has grown from $300 million in annual revenue to almost $3 billion. The chipmaker has won orders to equip the giant computing factories owned by companies such as Facebook Inc. and Google by successfully arguing that graphics chips can handle AI workloads better than more standard processors.Nvidia is the only company to have made sizable inroads into a server chip market that Intel has mostly dominated. While Intel’s data center business still generates more than $20 billion in annual sales, Nvidia is growing much quicker.Investors have rewarded this fast expansion with a rich valuation. Since debuting on the Nasdaq in 1999, the stock has averaged an annual return of 33%. In the past five years, it has soared more than eightfold and trades at 75 times earnings, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Intel shares trade at 12 times earnings.Nvidia is now the third-largest chipmaker by market capitalization, behind Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. and Samsung Electronics Co.Intel is responding to Nvidia’s success by introducing similar graphics chips. The two companies are also targeting the market for processors that help run self-driving vehicles.Intel has weathered similar challenges before. In 2016, Qualcomm Inc.’s market value topped Intel’s as investors bet that smartphones would eclipse traditional computing in popularity. That happened, but Intel benefited indirectly through its server chips powering the cloud services relied on by handsets.Intel also lost the title of the world’s largest chipmaker by revenue to Samsung Electronics Co. in 2017. It regained the title a year later, thanks to its resilient server chip business.(Updates shares in second paragraph.)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Fasten your seat belts. Tightly!As Q2 earnings reports begin trickling in, investors everywhere should prepare for what one headline writer called "The Ugliest Earnings Season since the Financial Crisis."The year-over-year fallout from the coronavirus pandemic that kept most of the world in family confinement for many months has widely been expected to show its nastiest side in Q2 earnings results, and we're about to find out how hideous it was.FactSet, for example, is predicting all 11 sectors of the S&P 500 could fall into negative territory for a white-knuckled 43.8% drop into the earnings abyss for the quarter. The biggest loser leaders include Energy, Consumer Discretionary, Industrials and Financial sectors, according to FactSet's John Butters."If -43.8% is the actual decline for the quarter, it will mark the largest year-over-year decline in earnings for the index since Q4 2008 (-69.1%)," he wrote in a recent update.On the other side of the biggest loser equation is the sector with the smallest expected setback--the Communications Services sector. With some of the largest and most well-known companies in it, such as Netflix Inc (NASDAQ: NFLX), Walt Disney Co (NYSE: DIS), Facebook Inc (NASDAQ: FB), Google parent Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ: GOOG) (NASDAQ: GOOGL), and Twitter Inc (NYSE: TWTR), Comms represents the nonliving lifeblood of nearly every American who turns to their phones, computers or TVs to work, live or play. They also rely on AT&T Inc. (NYSET) and Verizon Communications Inc (NYSE: VZ) to access many of those platforms.Comms Sector Results A Guesstimate Here's something to chew on: 100% of the Comms companies that have issued guidance for Q2 have made positive calls. That's directly opposite of the calls from the Utilities or Industrials sectors, according to FactSet.Still, FactSet is looking at a 30.9% drop in Q2 Comms sector earnings growth today compared to a 2.7% decline at the end of Q1. Revenue growth projections have fallen to a minus-5.7% today vs. where they stood at Q1's end at a 4.4% gain.That could help in understanding FactSet's percentages of buy, hold, and sell ratings on the sector. Some 58% of analysts are recommending buys on stocks in the sector, while 35% say hold and 6% say sell. Only Energy and Health Care sectors scored higher buy percentages at 62% and 61%, respectively.The positive outlook for Comms--relative to other sectors--has helped power share prices as well (see chart below).FIGURE 1: BREAKING AWAY. During the height of the pandemic meltdown in March, the Communications Services sector ($IXC--candlestick) fell hard along with the broader market S&P 500 Index (SPX--purple line), but since then has become the pacesetter. Data source: S&P Dow Jones Indices. Chart source: The thinkorswim® platform from TD Ameritrade. For illustrative purposes only. Past performance does not guarantee future results.But here's something else to munch on: With so much uncertainty ahead for COVID-19 outbreaks, companies have failed to offer up guidance. Or, as Bank of America's Savita Subramanian wrote in a recent note, it's all a guesstimate."At this point, exactly 400 companies within the S&P 500 have failed to guide over the last three months...suggesting that corporate sentiment is neither positive nor negative, but simply a big question mark," she said.A NFLX Exception? If it feels like NFLX is hitting fresh highs most weeks, it's probably because it has. Since tumbling with the rest of the stock market in mid March, NFLX shares have soared better than 65%. After bottoming at a 52-week low in mid September of last year, the stock has doubled in value.Thanks to NFLX, there was some much-needed therapy available to help provide solace from the long days and nights of staying in one place--often with bored children, and spouses--that the tandem effect of the coronavirus pandemic and a near worldwide quarantine created.Investors largely expected NFLX to add high numbers of new subscribers in Q1 as folks desperate for entertainment, even the mind-numbing sort, turned to the streaming video provider. Investors might want to keep tabs on anything NFLX executives might say about pricing power, something some analysts are thinking will come sooner rather than later, given the momentum and the still cloudy outlook for containing Covid-19 outbreaks in the U.S."With many consumers continuing to stay home and limiting outdoor social activities amid uneven reopenings, Netflix engagement has likely remained high," Cowen analyst John Blackledge said in a recent note to clients.Disney Not Throwing Away Its Shot It's been barely eight months since DIS rolled out its Disney+ streaming service and analysts say the quarantine gave it an immediate bump into the big leagues competing against NFLX and Amazon.com Inc's (NASDAQ: AMZN) Prime streaming service. Desperate parents might have had a big hand in that, helping to account for the 54.5 million worldwide subscribers to the service in just the first six months, according to the company.Its recent release of musical Hamilton spurred a 74% hike in mobile downloads over the 4th of July weekend, equivalent to 752,451 times globally, according to analytics firm Apptopia. And even that number could be low considering it only accounts for the mobile app download and doesn't include downloads to online services or via smart TVs, Variety noted in a recent article.While all that's well and good, analysts said Disney+'s gains aren't nearly enough to overcome the lost revenues when it was forced to close down its theme parks, resorts and cruise lines. At the same time, movie theaters went dark, and it's unclear whether DIS will have to find other means of distributing movies like "Mulan," slated for release in July, if movie theaters don't open or even if they do, but at limited capacities.The GOOG, FB, TWTR Ad Revenue Conundrum On the social media side of Comms, nothing seems to be piquing the Q2 interests of analysts more than advertising revenues, which stumbled in March and looked to be on an uneven path into Q2, according to GOOG, FB and TWTR Q1 earnings statements and conference calls.As the pandemic got into full swing in mid to late March and consumers stayed hunkered down at home, out of shopping centers and malls, fitness facilities and restaurants, advertising revenues dropped. That didn't put too big of a dent in revenues--all three posted double-digit gains--but it forewarned of an ambiguous near-term future, meaning Q2 and Q3.GOOG also saw its ad revenues take a "significant and sudden hit" in March that Chief Executive Sundar Pichai "correlated to the locations and sectors impacted by the virus and related shutdown orders."The company anticipated Q2 would be a "difficult one" but said in April it would be "premature to comment on timing, given all the variables here." Both companies saw ad revenues stabilizing as they edged in April but were wary.TWTR, too, pulled in new users in Q1 as people everywhere were searching for information about the pandemic's march across the world. As Chief Executive Jack Dorsey said in a statement, "In this difficult time, Twitter's purpose is proving more vital than ever. We are helping the world stay informed."But TWTR saw the writing on the wall in March as advertisers began pulling back spending and warned investors at the time. Analysts have noted TWTR could get a bigger hit to its ad base because it leans toward brand advertising, typically the first ads to get cut when finances get tight.FB's Other Ad Revenue Troubles It's a boycott by some 750 of the platform's largest advertisers in July, including VZ, Coca-Cola Co (NYSE: KO), Starbucks Corporatio (NASDAQ: SBUX) and Unilever NV (NYSE: UN) to prompt FB to announce tougher actions on what they consider inappropriate messaging on Facebook and Instagram.The initiative was launched last month in an open letter to FB advertisers from the Anti-Defamation League, aimed at cleaning up its approach to "divisive, hateful and conspiratorial content.""Every day, we see ads from companies placed adjacent to hateful content, occupying the same space as extremist recruitment groups and harmful disinformation campaigns," the June 25 letter stated.FB CEO Mark Zuckerberg was expected to have a virtual meeting with the Anti-Defamation League and other like-minded civil rights groups but had not publicly made a statement about the boycott. It could be interesting to see how this unfolds and whether Zuckerberg discusses it on the conference call.GOOG, FB, TWTR and their International Challenges As these three continue to face regulatory issues in the U.S., the trio is also in the same boat abroad. Keep an eye on the European Union's efforts to rein in GOOG, AMZN, and FB's alleged anticompetitive behavior and an ear bent to what those giants might have to say about them. (AMZN isn't a Comms sector company but could be worth watching with these others nonetheless.)The EU's top antitrust boss is devising a playbook for techs that includes heavier taxes and "compelling them to shoulder more responsibility for illegal content on their platforms," according to a Wall Street Journal article."It's a full complex of things. It's not done with just one piece of legislation," Margrethe Vestager said in an interview with a small group of reporters, according to WSJ. "After the first mandate and the first specific competition cases, what I have seen very clearly is that we need rigorous competition-law enforcement, but we also need regulation," she said.GOOG, FB, and TWTR also appear to be putting themselves on a collision course with the Chinese government after recently halting all user data requests from Hong Kong's law enforcement agencies.That follows Beijing's new national security law that is said to be aimed at quelling opposition and all those Hong Kong protests against the ruling Communist Party, according to published reports. Hong Kong residents have reportedly relied without retribution on the social media giants for a variety of communications, including expressing political opinions, just like U.S. citizens.The law, passed in secrecy June 30 and put into effect July 7, says that police who suspect an "electronic message" that might risk "national security" could turn to the platform, host, or network provider to remove or restrict access, according to the Wall Street Journal.Regardless of how the new measures pan out, there could be an impact to the revenue these companies get from advertisers on the messaging boards.T and VZ: Streaming, 5G, Plus More There's been a bundle of news coming out of T in recent weeks, including reports of a potential sale of the Warner Bros Interactive Entertainment division, the gaming arm. CNBC reported in mid June that T was considering a sale that would pull in $4 billion.That's a lot of moolah but remember T has a boatload of debt, much of it tied to the $104 billion purchase of TimeWarner and its debt in 2018. T pulled its guidance April 22, noting the coronavirus impact. Analysts said they're looking for more insight on revenue numbers as well as debt-reduction plans. In June, T said its debt was now more "manageable" after it had paid down $4.3 billion in bonds and another $1 billion prepayment of term loans."This series of transactions is consistent with AT&T's plans to continue improving its credit quality even as it remains committed to paying a dividend to its shareholders and investing in its growth areas--fiber, 5G and HBO Max," the statement said.Not long after, the WarnerMedia division announced plans to sell the iconic CNN Center in downtown Atlanta, with plans to lease back the space for a minimum of five years, the company said in a June 29 statement.At the same time, T has said it's focusing on the streaming service business, which could mean they may turn their attention to HBO Max.Then, of course, there's the 5G plan. T was the first 5G carrier in the industry and has said its policy framework will concentrate on mobile 5G, fixed wireless, and edge computing. It also said it would have nationwide coverage of 5G by the end of the year, albeit with some on a lower frequency spectrum. Something to listen for heading into T's earnings call is if those plans are still in place and if there's any possibility of fast-tracking any of the super-fast internet plans at a time when work-at-home is the new norm as is school-at-home and binge-at-home. Speaking of 5G, VZ is apparently the speed leader in the 5G race because it relies on what's called mmWave spectrum, according to OpenSignal, an independent mobile analytics group. Will the higher speed give VZ the ability to overpower T?Last month, VZ announced its trials of dynamic spectrum sharing, DSS, technology in a couple of states. This gave VZ the confidence to move ahead with its plan to launch 5G this year, according to industry watchers. Something to listen for during VZ's earnings call is how the company plans to roll that out, as the nation grapples with the pandemic. The company was one of the few to provide some guidance for Q2, lowering its expected adjusted earnings per share to a range of 2% to minus-2% from an earlier forecast of 2% to 4% increase.The need for VZ services may have jacked up in Q1, but did the company stay on that path in Q2? And how did VZ juggle that with aggressive plans to move forward on its tech plays? Stay tuned. TD Ameritrade® commentary for educational purposes only. Member SIPC.Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on UnsplashSee more from Benzinga * New Day, New Sentiment: Travel And Tech Stocks On Defense After Monday's Big Gains * Early Strength Seen In Many Stocks Tied to Reopening, Including Airlines, Casinos, Autos * Airline, Travel Stocks Could Be In Focus Today As Stronger-Than-Forecast Jobs Report Boosts Sentiment(C) 2020 Benzinga.com. Benzinga does not provide investment advice. All rights reserved.
The Trump administration will take steps to ensure the Chinese government does not gain any access to the private information of American citizens through telecommunications and social media, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday, when asked if the U.S. was planning to ban Chinese-owned app Tiktok. Pompeo also praised U.S. technology giants Google, Twitter Inc and Facebook Inc for 'refusing to surrender' user data to the Hong Kong government and urged other companies to follow suit, after China's establishment of a sweeping new national security law for the semi-autonomous city. Speaking two days after he said Washington was "certainly looking at" banning Chinese social media apps, including TikTok, Pompeo said the U.S. evaluation was not focused on a particular company but that it was a matter of national security.
Alphabet Inc began offering the world's first commercial high-speed internet using balloons to villagers in remote regions of Kenya's Rift Valley on Wednesday. The service is run by Loon, a unit of Google's parent Alphabet, and Telkom Kenya, the East African nation's third largest telecoms operator.
The House Judiciary antitrust subcommittee is very interested in what the quartet has to say about market dominance and competition.
Deutsche Bank (DB) seeks to better cater to the needs of customers by introducing innovative technology solutions in partnership with Google Cloud.
Alphabet's Google Cloud becomes the first cloud-service provider to offer NVDIA's (NVDA) flagship server GPU -- Ampere A100.
Spotify (NYSE: SPOT) shares have soared following a string of podcasting deals. Bernstein analyst Todd Juenger downgraded Spotify's stock recently, believing the run-up in price isn't fully justified by its podcast investments. "We continue to believe it's unlikely Spotify will generate much earnings from podcasts," he wrote in a note.
Alphabet's (GOOGL) Google has agreed to partner with Deutsche Bank in a bid to expand its cloud customer base.
U.S. tech giants face a reckoning over how Hong Kong's security law will reshape their businesses, with their suspension of processing government requests for user data a stop-gap measure as they weigh options, people close to the industry say. While Hong Kong is not a significant market for firms such as Facebook, Google and Twitter, they have used it as a perch to reach deep-pocketed advertisers in mainland China, where many of their services are blocked. "These companies have to totally reassess the liability of having a presence in Hong Kong," Charles Mok, a legislator who represents the technology industry in Hong Kong, told Reuters.
Raymond James Washington Policy Analyst Ed Mills joins Yahoo Finance’s Kristin Myers to discuss why he thinks investors shouldn’t anticipate any significant tech legislation prior to November.
TechCrunch Senior Writer Anthony Ha joins Yahoo Finance's On the Move panel to discuss the latest with company's boycotting Facebook ads, and why Amazon and Google could benefit.
Tencent's (TCEHY) aggressive steps, including the launch of its new studio, are expected to boost its competitive position against Google, NVIDIA, Amazon, NetEase and Microsoft in gaming space.