Giants of Big Tech are slated to disclose how their businesses faired in the third quarter of this year with firm financial footing despite turbulent politics and the coronavirus pandemic.

Facebook, Google and Twitter logos are seen in this combination photo.
Facebook, Google and Twitter logos are seen in this combination photo. (Reuters)

A powerhouse line-up of earnings releases is expected to show that giants of Big Tech are on firm financial footing despite turbulent politics and the coronavirus pandemic.

Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Twitter and Google-parent Alphabet are all slated to disclose how their businesses faired in the third quarter of this year.

"The reality is that the strong are getting stronger with FAANG names such as Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Apple beneficiaries of the current environment," Wedbush analyst Dan Ives said in a note to investors.

Robust financial results expected from the tech behemoths will highlight their "outsized" strength, and put a "bright spotlight" on them in regard to antitrust concerns, Ives added.

Ad rebound?

Alphabet and Facebook dominate the digital ad market, which appeared to be recovering from a hit it took early in the pandemic, according to analysts.

And while much smaller in terms of making money, Twitter is likely to have seen advertising benefit in the quarter as people tune in for US election commentary and live sports that were held despite pandemic concerns.

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Facebook likely saw its ranks of users and its revenue grow in the quarter, even despite an ad boycott calling for more meaningful curbs on hateful content, Canaccord Genuity said in a note to investors.

Alphabet was also expected to see ad revenue growth return, with help from streaming video platform YouTube.

Despite criticisms of online platforms, advertisers seem to prefer proven online venues such as Facebook and Google when it comes to spending marketing money, according to Canaccord.

Cloud cash

Investors will be interested in Google's cloud business, as well as a recent expansion of its pioneering driverless ride service..

Waymo, the autonomous car unit at Alphabet, opened its robo-taxi project to the general public in the US city of Phoenix in September.

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While not likely to be a money-maker yet, Waymo promises to be a rare Alphabet "moonshot" that actually becomes a viable stand-alone business.

Meanwhile, Google and Amazon are rivals in a fast-growing cloud computing market, which has seen demand boom as people work, learn, shop and socialize online due to the pandemic.

Both companies are expected to showcase how their cloud businesses are thriving.

Amazon's e-commerce revenue engine likely continued to rev as people avoiding real-world stores go online for groceries, clothes, business supplies and more.

Analysts will be keen to know how Amazon's recent Prime Day sales went, even though the event took place after the end of the third quarter, as well as whether the company's delivery operations were getting back up to speed despite the heavy load.

iPhones eyed

Apple is expected to meet earnings expectations with help of a thriving business selling digital content and services to fans of its mobile devices.

"Apple should post at least modest upside to the Street's $64 billion top-line estimate on the heels of stronger Services revenue and relatively healthy iPhone demand," Ives said.

READ MORE: Apple's profit up as smartphone giant returns cash to shareholders

For investors, Apple's third quarter earnings figures will take a "back seat" to any glimpses company executives give into demand for recently launched iPhone 12 models, according to Ives.

The analyst noted that a study of Apple's supply chain indicates preparation for blockbuster iPhone 12 demand.

"We continue to see the path higher for tech stocks given the underlying fundamental drivers that should be front and center during 3Q earnings," Ives said.

"In a nutshell, we are still in the middle innings of a paradigm change for tech stocks with WFH (working from home), cloud, e-commerce, and cyber security trends leading the way."

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CEO of Twitter Jack Dorsey appears on a monitor behind a stenographer as he testifies remotely during the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee hearing
CEO of Twitter Jack Dorsey appears on a monitor behind a stenographer as he testifies remotely during the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee hearing "Does Section 230's Sweeping Immunity Enable Big Tech Bad Behavior?" On Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, US, October 28, 2020. (Reuters)

US senators spar with Big Tech

Meanwhile, Capitol Hill clashed with Silicon Valley over legal protections and censorship on social media during a fiery hearing a week before Election Day in which Twitter's Jack Dorsey acknowledged that platforms need to do more to "earn trust."

Dorsey – along with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Google chief Sundar Pichai – had been summoned to the Senate to testify via video link to debate a law known as Section 230 that shields their platforms from liability over what their users post.

With the election looming, tech executives have been facing increased pressure to shield users from the rapid propagation of false information while staying above the political fray.

The delicate balancing act has angered Republicans, however, who distrust Silicon Valley over what they see the suppression of conservative voices and Democrats who worry that the platforms are not doing enough on disinformation.

"My concern is that these platforms have become powerful arbiters of what is true and what content users can access," said Roger Wicker, the Republican chairman of the Commerce Committee.

The senator said the panel had "dozens of examples of conservative content being censored," questioning Dorsey on how that platform decides on how to label or remove content.

"Your platform allows foreign dictators to post propaganda without restriction yet your routinely restrict the president of the United States," Wicker said, pointing to one message in China accusing the US military of introducing the coronavirus.

Right on cue, President Donald Trump, who faces an uphill battle for reelection on November 3, served up his own critique, taking to Twitter to accuse Big Tech of covering up the "corruption" of his opponent Joe Biden.

Source: AFP