02 November 2022

Just in case anyone thought the worst was over for big tech, a grim raft of earnings has prompted a sell-off in some the worlds largest companies. The market wiped $200bn off Amazon and Microsoft in a single day last week after their results showed a marked pull-back in digital advertising. Barring the start of the pandemic, Alphabet showed its slowest growth in almost a decade.


It was a similar picture at Meta. The company’s shares were hammered after its third quarter results showed weakness in advertising. Perhaps more importantly, the market appears to be losing faith in its new strategy, which is eating up plenty of spending but delivering little. 


For investors, the question is whether this weakness is temporary – and therefore a moment to buy into the world’s largest technology companies at knock-down prices – or reflects a more permanent weakness. 


Certainly, the economic slowdown is proving punishing for these companies. Revenue growth is slowing, or – in Meta’s case, declining. Mark Zuckerberg appeared to admit that the issues would not be solved quickly or easily when he said: “There are a lot of things going on right now in the business and in the world, and so it’s hard to have a simple ‘We’re going to do this one thing, and that’s going to solve all the issues’”. 


Equally, it had appeared that the path to cloud adoption was inexorable, but Amazon Web Services (its cloud division) saw a dramatic slowdown. This had been a key source of strength for the group at a time when ecommerce hadn’t proved as strong, so the lack of demand is worrying. It may suggest that the digitisation trend isn’t as strong as investors had hoped. 


While it is easy to blame the broader environment, it is worth noting that some companies have bucked the trend. Apple, for example, beat expectations on revenue and profit. The group shored up its credentials as a safe haven, with demand for its computers and phones remaining robust. It is also worth noting that Google managed to speed up its (smaller) cloud business. 


It is clear that the current economic environment is exposing. Companies that could previously rely on the broad sweep of digital adoption, or the march of technological progress, can no longer do so. Technology has enjoyed a unique decade, but from here, gains will be harder won. 



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This article was sourced from Adviser-Hub.co.uk.

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