The A-Team of big tech – Apple, Amazon and Alphabet – all delivered disappointing results on Thursday a day after Facebook owner Meta bucked the gloomy trend in technology, delivering better-than-expected results.
Apple shares slid more than 4% on Thursday after the company posted a disappointing first-quarter earnings report, including rare misses on revenue, profit and sales.
The iPhone maker missed analyst expectations on profit for the first time in seven years, after strict Covid-19 lockdowns and related protests in China upended iPhone production at its biggest supplier.
The company also marked its largest quarterly revenue drop in nearly seven years, posting $117.2bn – down 5.49% from last year when it reported record holiday sales. The number was lower than analysts’ average estimate of $121.10bn.
Apple alluded to ongoing headwinds in a press release accompanying the report, which observers are calling shocking. Strict lockdowns in China, which produces 90% of its devices sold globally, cost it approximately $4bn in lost sales in 2022. In a call with investors on Thursday, Cook said iPhone revenue would have grown in the quarter if not for these supply issues, but said production is back to pre-shutdown goals.
For years, Apple has been seen as a safe haven for investment in the increasingly volatile tech space, but analysts say this report shows the tide may be changing. The company had warned in its October earnings call that it was anticipating a slowdown, with chief financial officer Luca Maestri citing “continued uncertainty around the world”.
“Apple’s poor quarter proves that even the most valuable US-traded company isn’t immune to the challenges facing the tech industry at large,” said Jesse Cohen, senior analyst at Investing.com, adding that the report was “shockingly weak”.
Amazon reported worse than anticipated earnings on Thursday while at Google parent Alphabet, a pull-back by advertisers hit the search giant’s revenue.
Amazon is facing a difficult reset after its pandemic boom and recently announced 18,000 job cuts. The tech and retailing giant reported a net loss of $2.7bn for 2022, compared to net income of $33.4bn a year before. The loss included a pre-tax loss of $12.7bn on its investment in electric vehicle maker Rivian. Net sales increased 9% to $514bn, compared to $469.8bn in 2021.
The company’s most reliable division, Amazon Web Services, reported sales of $21.4bn, an increase of 20% from a year earlier but below analysts’ estimates.
Alphabet narrowly missed analysts’ expectations, signaling lower demand for its search advertising during a slowing economy. Sales at the company reached $63.1bn for the quarter, marginally below $63.2bn projected.
Last month, Alphabet cut 12,000 jobs, or 6% of its global workforce, and vowed to create a leaner, more efficient company.
It was then hit with a US Department of Justice lawsuit accusing the company of abusing its dominance of the digital advertising business.
Both earnings results will be set against a turnaround at Meta, Facebook’s parent company. Shares in Meta’s stock surged as much as 26% on Thursday – its biggest one-day jump in nearly a decade.
Meta’s share price surge came after CEO Mark Zuckerberg vowed to make the social media company leaner. Analysts welcomed the move, with many upgrading their recommendations on the stock.
Apple has thus far avoided the mass layoffs seen by its peers in the tech space. In Thursday’s call with investors, Cook did not mention layoffs but said the company would be closely monitoring its labor expenses.
“We’re cutting costs,” he said. “We’re cutting hiring, we’re being very prudent and deliberate on people that we hire.”