Earnings Season: Amazon’s $100bn quarter still misses expectations

Equities

Despite huge sales, Amazon shares took a knock after the ecommerce pioneer reported its Q2 earnings. Here’s why.

Amazon earnings

Amazon’s headline stats

It’s a third $100bn quarter in a row for Amazon, but its stock price wasn’t too ecstatic about these huge figures. AMZN stock fell 7% in extended trading on Thursday following the firm’s Q2 2021 earnings report.

Why? Despite clocking in at an eyewatering $113.08 billion, revenues still fell short of market estimates of $115.2bn.

Even with Q2 sales growing 27% year-on-year, this showed a slowdown in Amazon’s growth compared against the 41% year-on-year growth seen in Q2 2020.

Key takeaway stats from the Amazon earnings reports are:

  • Earnings per share – $15.12 vs $12.30 estimated
  • Revenue – $113.03bn vs $115.2bn

So good news on the EPS front, but still that sales drop off has caused investors to feel less optimistic regarding amazon.

The rise and rise in sales in 2020, and the rapid growth rates, is essentially all tied in with the pandemic. With shoppers essentially stuck at home, online retail boomed worldwide. With Amazon already the number one global retailer, it’s only natural that it benefited greatly from homebound consumers.

With economies opening up once more, and shoppers shifting their spending from products to experiences, like trips, leisure activities and dining, the sales drop isn’t so surprising.

Even so, Prime Day, Amazon’s showpiece sales event, took place in June this year. 250 million items were sold then – more than any other Prime Day to date.

New CEO Andy Lassy has taken the reins from founder and world’s richest man Jeff Bezos this quarter. Speaking to reporters, Lassy was quick to point out that Amazon Web Services (AWS) is on a strong growth footing, which may comfort investors.

In the quarter ending June, AWS sales totalled $14.8bn showing annualised growth of 37%. This particular sector outperformed Amazon’s wider retail business. It also outperformed its rate of expansion in Q2 2020, which was measured at 29%.

It was partly AWS’ success, alongside high profitability in the cloud-computing, subscriptions, and advertising segments, that helped earnings smash Wall Street expectations.

Amazon guidance

CFO Brian Olsvasky has said Amazon expects to record sales between $106bn and $112bn in quarter three. That would be growth of around 10-16%, compared against the same period in 2020.

Once again, this falls shorts of consensus estimates. Wall Street was predicting Q3 sales to accelerate further to reach $119.2bn.

Amazon’s FAANG contemporaries also believe their revenues will fall away from pandemic highs in 2021’s third quarter. Apple, for instance, has cited supply chain difficulties affecting its ability to sustain its high Q2 performance. Like Amazon, this led to a drop in its share price.

“Our customers are safe and healthy and ordering from us. And we know that there’ll be more vacations or be more mobility. They’ll be things that probably people shied away from last year and that’s all good,” Olsavsky said. “But it does tend to lead them to do other things besides shop. So, we’re just adjusting our run rates in the period that we see that happening.”

To see which large caps are still due to report on Wall Street this season, make sure you check out our earnings calendar.

Week Ahead: The Fed meets as inflation bites

Week Ahead

The Fed meets as inflation starts to bite into the US economy. Will we see any major changes from Powell and co? US GDP is in focus too with forecasts calling for more record quarterly growth. Meanwhile, Tesla hits the accelerator on the busiest US earnings season week so far this quarter.

Earnings reports aside, the week’s big event is July’s FOMC meeting.

Inflation and a hot-running economy are likely to take centre stage during July’s talks. We’ve recently seen Chairman Powell pledge “powerful support” for the US economy post-pandemic amidst a backdrop of rising inflation.

According to Powell, current rising consumer prices is down to the nation’s reopening and will fade. In a testimony to the US House of Representatives, Powell stuck to the jobs script, pointing out there is still 7.5 million jobs missing from the US’ pre-pandemic economy.

A reduction in stimulus is some way off, according to Powell. The Fed’s $120bn a month bond purchasing programme is probably not going to change. As mentioned above, this is tied in with labour markets. Bond-buying and Fed support will likely remain in place until those job gaps are filled.

No rate hike is expected until 2023 at the earliest.

But for all the Fed’s talk of inflation being broad-based, stemming from heightened economic activity, many remain unconvinced on the plan to let the economy run hot.

June’s headline CPI print of 5.4% was the highest reading for nearly 13 years. Observers on both the Democratic and Republic side will be hoping this can be tamed relatively soon.

Powell has promised that if inflation runs rampant, “we will use our tools to guide inflation back down.”

But “it would be a mistake to act prematurely.”

Sticking with the US economy, we are due the first reading of the nation’s Q2 GDP on Thursday.

So far, predictions are good. Deloitte cites technological advances may help power the US towards another bumper quarter – outstripping pre-pandemic growth levels.

The Conference Board has predicted the US economy will grow at an annualised 9% in 2021’s second quarter.

“As the economy fully reopens and consumer confidence continues to rise, we expect consumer spending to help drive the recovery forward – especially spending on in-person services,” TCB said. “These outlays will be underpinned by a strengthening labour market and a large pool of savings derived from three rounds of fiscal stimulus checks dispersed over the last year.”

We’ve also seen in previous PMI releases that manufacturing and services sectors have continued to act on a growth footing into June following a strong April and May. Three months of solid PMI performance should help power US GDP growth this quarter.

But again, all of this pent up demand being unleashed is leading into the higher core consumer goods prices the US is currently experiencing. We’ve also had reports of high input prices starting to affect manufacturing output too. June’s manufacturing PMI reading was actually slightly lower than May’s for instance.

But, if predictions are correct, the US is about to experience one of its best periods of quarterly growth since the Second World War.

Moving away from data, it’s the busiest week for earnings season this quarter so far.

Nearly 40 US large caps are due to share their Q2 earnings this week. This includes the bulk of the FAANG stocks. Netflix reported last week, but these remaining tech giants, Alphabet (Google), Amazon, Facebook, and Apple, are all reporting in.

Tesla, however, kicks off proceedings with its earnings summary coming on Monday after US market close.

This is interesting because Tesla has rocketed 330% in terms of share price between May 2020-May 2021 and traditionally share prices tend to rise prior to Tesla releases. They have done so at an average of 1.6% ahead of all quarterly releases for the past three years.

Elon Musk’s carmaker has much to celebrate this quarter. It delivered 200,000 in a quarter for the first time. Tesla has also unleashed a range of new automation services, based on an $199-per month subscription service.

Earnings forecasts are strong, but we’ll know more on Monday.

For more information on which large caps are reporting, be sure to check out our US earnings calendar.

Major economic data

Date Time (GMT+1) Asset Event
Mon 26-Jul 9.00am EUR German ifo Business Climate
 
Tue 27-Jul 3.00pm USD US Consumer Confidence
 
Wed 28-Jul 2.30am AUD CPI q/q
  2.30am AUD Trimmed Mean CPI q/q
  1.30pm CAD CPI m/m
  3.30pm OIL US Crude Oil Inventories
  7.00pm USD FOMC Statement
  7.00pm USD Federal Funds Rate
  7.30pm USD FOMC Press Conference
 
Thu 29-Jul 1.30pm USD Advanced GDP q/q
  3.30pm GAS US Natural Gas Inventories
 
Fr 30-Jul 9.00am EUR Germany Preliminary GDP q/q
  1.30pm CAD GDP m/m
  1.30pm USD Core PCE Price Index m/m

 

Key earnings data

Mon 26 Jul Tue 27 Jul Wed 28 Jul Thu 29 Jul Fri 30 Jul
Tesla 3M Automatic Data Processing CME AbbVie
General Electric Boeing Keurig Dr Pepper Aon
Advanced Micro Devices McDonald’s Mastercard Caterpillar
Alphabet (Google) Pfizer Merck Chevron
Apple Shopify Amazon Exxon Mobil
Microsoft Spotify Gilead Procter & Gamble
Mondelez Facebook Liberty Global Takeda Pharmaceutical
Starbucks Ford Pinterest Berkshire Hathaway
Teladoc Health PayPal Twilio
Visa Qualcomm

 

Afternoon wrap: Shell loses emissions court case, Amazon inks MGM deal

Commodities
Equities
Investments

A bit of a dreich day for European equity markets with nothing moving much at all. All the main bourses have traded flat. US markets are mildly higher as Wall Street’s bank chiefs testify in front of Congress. Oil recovered $66 as inventory data showed a bigger-than-expected draw in inventories as well as stocks of gasoline and distillates. US 10s at 1.55%, gold above $1,900 and Bitcoin is weaker in the afternoon session below $39k again.

The dollar caught a big bid into the London fix. Dovish comments from the ECB’s Panetta – too early to taper bond purchases – had already set the EUR on a downwards trajectory through the session. EURUSD retreated to 1.2210 where it seems to have found some support. GBPUSD has tried several times to breach 1.4120 on the downside today but the level is holding well. The dollar index had a run up to 90 but ran out of steam at 89.95.

Doubling Dutch emissions cuts: A court in the Netherlands has ruled Royal Dutch Shell must cut carbon emissions by more than twice the company’s current target of 20% by 2030. The Dutch ruling compels Shell to reduce emissions by 45% from 2019 levels by 2030. Currently, Shell has a goal of achieving this 45% target five years later in 2035, and to be net neutral by 2050.

Shares had been trading a little higher all day before the ruling saw them turn mildly negative, before turning back above the flatline towards the end of the session. Shell says it will appeal the ruling. It comes as Chevron and Exxon also face their own climate campaign fight in AGMs today. What does the ruling mean for Shell and peers?

It undoubtedly sets an important precedent that ties corporate actions to global and national policy in a way that has not been seen before. It’s acknowledgment that you cannot abstract the likes of Shell and other ‘polluters’ if you like from the legally-binding treaties and obligations nation states have signed up to. Similar judgments may start to emerge that compel polluters to better align their strategy with government policy (eg the Paris treaty). It could also have implications for other sectors (eg Utilities) though that is less clear right now.

It is not yet clear to what extent this really changes whether you want to own Shell stock right now. True it could face fines if it doesn’t meet the targets, rather than just shareholder disapprobation. It may also need to increase the near-term capex for ‘greening’. But really this is speeding up a process already in motion. Indeed, the recent investor vote on setting more ambitious carbon reduction targets highlighted the extent to which investors are fully behind Shell doing more, quicker, not less, slower. Which kind of says most investors will be comfortable with the ruling, in of itself. Worries about higher capex and lower returns are another matter. The quicker Shell moves on this, the sooner fund managers with ESG-criteria to box tick will take a kinder view to the stock. Shell will have to act on this, and it could speed up divestments and potential deal activity if it is looking to use its current scale to swallow up some green energy assets.

Ford shares rallied 7% as it announced a $30bn investment in electric vehicles through to 2025. Investors lapped up the ambition. The company says it expects 40% of its sales globally to be EVs by 2030. It’s the first investor day under new CEO Jim Farley and there seems to be a real buzz about Ford’s EV plans now – watch out Tesla.

Amazon shares were mildly higher as the company confirmed it is acquiring MGM for $8.45bn. Like just about any big Amazon deal, on the face of things this looks like bad news for competitors, all else being equal. It gives Amazon significantly more firepower in terms of its Prime streaming platform. The impressive catalogue from MGM (James Bond etc) will help Amazon drive further up-selling of content in the Prime mix. Owning MGM also allows Amazon to benefit from having more control in the content output from the studio, which puts more squarely in a straight fight for eyeballs with Netflix/Disney. Of course, we cannot like-for-like Netflix subs with Prime membership, but, on the margins, it could make Prime compete more fully for eyeball time, which a) makes it stickier with users and b) reduces consumer propensity to have another streaming service.

Netflix tracked the move in Amazon shares but this could be more about the broad 0.55% rally for NDX today. Disney shares rose 1%. Comcast rallied 3% as it’s not seen in a rush to do any further deals. We are seeing significant consolidation in the streaming space that acknowledges the requirement for scale in order to survive – only last week AT&T spun off Warner Media to merge with Discovery. A major deal but hardly transformational for Amazon.

Finally, meme stocks are back – GameStop shares rose 14% and are now up 35% on the week. AMC added another 12%. Both jumped yesterday as Redditors on /wallstreetbets renew their interest in their old favourites.

Billionaires, blocks & stocks: super rich shareholders cash in

Equities
Investments

Some of the world’s richest shareholders are reaping major windfalls from equities sales in 2021.

According to research by Bloomberg, the likes of Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and Google’s Sergey Brin are turning to stock sales to improve their already substantial fortunes.

A 14-month long bull market is helping industry insiders cash in. $24.4bn worth of equities have been offloaded in the period up to the first half of May 2021, compared against the $30bn sold in the same manner throughout the whole of 2020.

The bulk of these sales have been undertaken via trading programmes, a common practice for shareholders of this status.

Usually, large shareholders will sell stock in planned intervals. However, it’s the prolonged stock market rally that’s really made these deals pay off. Whether they were planned or just coincided with the current equities boom is up for debate. The key motivations to sell now are:

  • Valuations coming under pressure from rising inflation
  • Investors becoming wary of potential tighter post-Covid measures from the Fed
  • Joe Biden’s proposed capital gains tax hike

Who is selling?

The following names were mentioned by Bloomberg has being key stock sellers:

  • Jeff Bezos – Sold $6.7bn worth of Amazon shares in 2021
  • Mark Zuckerberg – Sold $1.67bn worth of Facebook shares since November 2021 through the Chan Zuckerberg Foundation charity
  • Larry Ellison – Sold $552.3m Oracle shares
  • Charles Schwab – Sold $192 worth of shares in his eponymous brokerage
  • Sergei Brin – $163m worth of Alphabet stock
  • Eric Yuan – Sold $185m of Zoom shares

One thing to note is that all of the above are involved in big tech players. Typically, such entrepreneurs’ portfolios are heavily weighted to tech stocks. It’s where they generate their wealth after all. However, divesting such levels of stocks makes sense. It’s rarely a great idea to bet solely on one horse, even if said horse has made you a multi-billionaire.

These stock sales will have further ripples away from equities markets. Hundreds of millions could be about to be poured into areas like art, real estate, and philanthropy.

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Wall St notches fresh record as US growth surges, Astra beats, Barclays falls

Morning Note
  • Amazon delivers another blowout tech earnings, Twitter misses
  • AstraZeneca tops FTSE 100 after earnings beat expectations, Barclays falls
  • Darktrace IPO off to a flyer

 

Wall Street closed at another record high, copper surged to a new ten-year peak above $10,000 a tonne and oil firmed up above $64 for WTI as the strong cyclical play based on the reopening story held up. The S&P 500 rallied 0.7% to close above 4,211, a new all-time closing high. European stocks are a firmer this morning after a bit of a false start on Thursday that saw early gains erased as the session wore on.

 

US data continues to look very impressive. GDP rose 6.4%, which was a little lighter than expected but still very strong. But this is just the start – we are waiting for the big fiscal relief and infrastructure spending to feed into the data over the next three quarters as the reopening really takes off. New York will be fully open without any restrictions from July 1st. Consumer spending is up big, rising more than 10%. Inflation is feeding through: The PCE price index increased 3.5 percent, compared with an increase of 1.5 percent. Excluding food and energy prices, the core PCE price index increased 2.3 percent. Initial jobless claims decreased by 13,000 to 553,000 in the week ended April 24th, the new post-pandemic low.

 

Good numbers from AstraZeneca this morning as revenues rose 15% to $7.3bn despite the impact of Covid delaying diagnosis and treatments of other conditions. The vaccine delivered $275m in revenues but is loss-making for now. Shares ticked higher in early trade, rising 2.5% to the top of the footsie. Barclays dragged on the FTSE 100, sliding 6% to the bottom of the index as a drop in investment banking earnings, lower revenues and a cautious outlook took the shine off a doubling in profits. Net income rose to £1.7bn from £605m a year ago but revenues fell 6% to £5.9bn on lower interest rates and lower demand for credit in Britain. Income from its corporate and investment bank declined 1% to £3.6bn as fixed income trading declined 35%. Consumer, cards and payments income fell 22% to £800m. UK income was down 8% to £1.6bn. Looking ahead, Barclays seemed very cautious, particularly about its UK unit, saying it remains uncertain and subject to change depending on the evolution and persistence of the COVID-19 pandemic. And whilst it reported a massive drop in credit impairment charges, it did not reverse any already allocated, which is in contrast to most peers. Surging ecommerce (see Amazon below), helped Smurfit Kappa return a 6% rise in Q1 revenues.

 

Amazon shares rose over 2% in after-hours trade as the company continued the run of blowout tech earnings. Earnings per share hit $15.79 vs. $9.54 expected on revenues of $108.5bn, a rise of 44% from a year before. Income trebled to $8.1bn, with $4.2bn coming from the cloud business. This was another stunning quarter that confirms not only that the likes of Amazon were short-term winners from the pandemic but remains long-term structural champions as consumer trends change and – often forgotten – more and more businesses migrate to the cloud.

 

On the other hand, Twitter shares tumbled 11% in the after-hours market as the company delivered a cautious outlook and it missed on user growth expectation. The company reported revenue of $1.04bn for the quarter, up 28% from $808m a year before. Ad revenues rose 32% year-on year to $899m. Total monetizable users grew 7m to 199m, a little short of the 200m expected. If ever there were a company with immense potential that it repeatedly fails to realise, it’s Twitter.

 

Another Bank Holiday float, but a very different story this time: Shares in Darktrace soared on their debut this morning. Learning a lesson from the Deliveroo flop perhaps, the company priced the IPO at a more conservative 250p, implying a market cap of £1.7bn, but was up around 38% in early trade around 350p, taking the market cap to £2.4bn. Shares are open for conditional trading with unconditional trading to commence under the ticker DARK on May 6th. The right price is very important for an IPO – let people who are getting in after the primary offer a chance to earn something for their trouble, rather than pricing it too aggressively and taking any upside off the table. Darktrace seems to have learned this lesson, with the £1.7bn market cap at the offer well below the £3bn they had previously hoped for. The area of cyber security in which it operates is also one that is seen growing materially over the next few years. For London it’s a welcome thumbs up after the Deliveroo debacle and an encouraging float for future tech listings.

Week Ahead: BoE rate decision, earnings roll on & nonfarm payrolls

Week Ahead

A busy week is ahead of us as the Bank of England meets for the first time this year amid speculation around negative rates and criticism of its QE programme. Earnings season continues, led by Amazon and Alphabet, and January nonfarm payrolls are released, following December’s decline. 

BoE statement: negative rates on their way? 

The Bank of England meets this week for its first interest rate decision of 2021, with the question of negative rates floating in the air. 

While interest rates are at a record low 0.1%, the dip into the negative is being explored by an ongoing review. In October 2020, the BoE began canvassing banks to assess if they were ready for negative rates, although around that time Governor Andrew Bailey explicitly said no rate change would be coming in the immediate future. 

External member Silvana Tenreyro made an impassioned defence of negative rates earlier in January 2021, although internal members are yet to be moved. They may be waiting for the results of their bank-consulting review before making any form of announcement. 

Elsewhere, the Bank’s QE programme has been called into question by its own internal independent watchdog The Independent Evaluation Office. According to the IEO’s findings, the BoE “does not understand its own quantitative easing programme”.  

According to a report by the Financial Times, quoting the IOE, says the BoE’s QE programme has worked operationally but caused controversy because the central bank’s “important knowledge gaps” hinder its ability to build “public understanding and trust in QE”. 

The Bank of England turned to QE last year as a way of giving monetary support to the Covid-hit economy. It has been printing money and buying government bonds in financial markets, in hopes it can keep inflation around its benchmark 2.0% rate. 

No changes are expected to the benchmark lending rate nor to the size of scope of QE this week, however there will be close inspection of language and tone around negative rates in light of the deterioration in some economic indicators since the last meeting. The Bank will also likely flag concerns about the path of recovery and the requirement to maintain flexibility. Hints about possible moves into negative rates would likely weight on sterling. 

Earnings Season rolls on with Amazon & Alphabet reporting 

It’s still earnings season on Wall Street and the reports from the large caps keep rolling in. Some are more likely to prosper from the Covid situation than others and Amazon is well placed to report a bumper quarterly earnings report. 

For starters, the holiday shopping season, and a delayed Prime Day fall squarely into the latest quarter. Reports indicate that Amazon may have been able to scoop up as much as 42 cents on the dollar for each sale.  

With Prime Day sales alone growing 45.2% year-on-year, with a record-setting $10.4bn, it appears Amazon has been able to capitalise on lockdown as shoppers can really only browse, click and buy instead of hitting the high street. Amazon also reported Cyber Monday was its best ever shopping day, with sales on that 24-hour period clocking in at $9.2bn. 

Amazon stocks have outperformed the S&P 500 at +74.5% vs. +17.9% over the past year, thanks in part due to its better Prime delivery service, the lockdown benefiting online retailers, and growth in its Amazon Web Services decision.  

Big Tech has performed well under lockdown too, and analysts forecast that Google-parent Alphabet will post a bumper Q4 earnings report next week too.  

Ad revenues are expected to be the key driver here, with search ad revenues  up 9% in Q3, following an 8% drop in Q2 revenues as businesses adjusted to the Covid reality. For comparison, we can look at Microsoft’s latest search ad revenues contributed $2.18bn in the last quarter, up 1%.  

Given Google’s stronghold on that market sector, it’s expected these will be much greater, and could potentially post some substantial gains – especially as YouTube engagement rose higher in the last quarter. Could the trend continue? 

See the bottom of this article for a look at which large caps are reporting earnings this week. 

Nonfarm payrolls release following December decline 

Latest nonfarm payroll data is set to be released next week as an indicator of US economic health.  

The job market took a hit in December, when the last release revealed 140,000 jobs had left the economy that month. Weekly unemployment claims hit 965,000 at the start of January, suggesting that the US economy was starting to creak again. 

The latest Fed meeting was what we thought it would be, i.e. no major changes to current economic policy. But President Biden is now in the White House and has promised a $1.9 stimulus package that could help get things working again. Part of Biden’s plan is small business protection – something 82% of Americans want from any further stimulus deals according to a Morning Consult poll. 

If the stimulus package is passed, then $15bn in grants will be offered to small business employers alongside $35bn in low-interest loans. The Paycheck Protection Programme will likely continue too. Stimulus cheques are said to be coming too, putting $1,400 into consumers’ pockets, which is hoped they will then spend, and reinvigorate business nationwide. 

Time is of the essence here though, as 57% of US small business owners think they’ll only be able to last until June. After that, all bets are off as small businesses are already burning through cash at a rate of knots. If the package can get passed, great. If not, further job losses could accrue as businesses fold. 

Major Economic Data 

Date  Time (GMT)  Currency  Event 
Mon 1 Feb  9.00am  EUR  Final Manufacturing PMI 
  9.30am  GBP  Final Manufacturing PMI 
  2.30pm  CAD  Manufacturing PMI 
  3.00pm  USD  ISM Manufacturing PMI 
       
Tue 2 Feb  3.30am  AUS  RBA Bank Statement 
  9.45pm  NZD  Employment Change q/q 
  9.45pm  NZD  Unemployment Rate 
       
Wed 3 Feb  9.00am  EUR  Final Services PMI 
  9.30am  EUR  Final Services PMI 
  1.15pm  USD  ADP Non-Farm Employment Change 
  3.00pm  USD  ISM Services PMI 
  3.30pm  USD  US Crude Oil Inventories 
       
Thu 4 Feb  12.00pm  GBP  BoE Monetary Policy Statement 
  12.00pm  GBP  MPC Official Bank Rate Votes 
  12.00pm  GBP  Monetary Policy Statement 
  12.00pm  GBP  Official Bank Rate 
  1.30pm  USD  Unemployment Claims 
  3.30pm  USD  US Natural Gas Inventories 
       
Fri 5 Feb  12.30am  AUD  RBA Monetary Policy Statement 
  1.30pm  CAD  Employment Change 
  1.30pm  CAD  Unemployment Change 
  1.30pm  USD  Average Hourly Earnings m/m 
  1.30pm  USD  Non-Farm Employment Change 
  1.30pm  USD  Unemployment Rate 

 

Key Earnings Data 

Date  Company  Event 
Mon 1 Feb  Nintendo  Q3 2020 Earnings 
  Ryanair  Q3 2021 Earnings 
     
Tue 2 Feb  Amazon  Q4 2020 Earnings 
  Alphabet  Q4 2020 Earnings 
  Pfizer  Q4 2020 Earnings 
  ExxonMobil  Q4 2020 Earnings 
  UPS  Q4 2020 Earnings 
  BP  Q4 2020 Earnings 
  Chubb  Q4 2020 Earnings 
  Ferrari  Q4 2020 Earnings 
  Panasonic  Q3 2021 Earnings 
  Mitsubishi Electric  Q3 2020 Earnings 
  Electronic Arts  Q3 2021 Earnings 
     
Wed 3 Feb  PayPal  Q4 2020 Earnings 
  Siemens AG  Q1 2021 Earnings 
  Sony Corp.  Q3 2020 Earnings 
  GlaxoSmithKline  Q4 2020 Earnings 
  Spotify  Q4 2020 Earnings 
  Volvo  Q4 2020 Earnings 
  MetLife  Q4 2020 Earnings 
  Mitsubishi  Q3 2021 Earnings 
  Hitachi  Q3 2020 Earnings 
  eBay  Q4 2020 Earnings 
     
Thu 4 Feb  Shell  Q4 2020 Earnings 
  Phillip Morris  Q4 2020 Earnings 
  Gilead  Q4 2020 Earnings 
  Activision Blizzard  Q4 2020 Earnings 
  Unilever  Q4 2020 Earnings 
  ABB  Q4 2020 Earnings 
  Pinterest  Q4 2020 Earnings 
  Ford  Q4 2020 Earnings 
  YUM! Brands  Q4 2020 Earnings 
  Motorola  Q4 2020 Earnings 
     
Fri 5 Feb  Linde  Q4 2020 Earnings 
  Estee Lauder  Q3 2021 Earnings 
  BNP Paribas  Q4 2020 Earnings 
  Vinci  Q4 2020 Earnings 
  Aon  Q4 2020 Earnings 
  Carlsberg  Q4 2020 Earnings 
  Assa Abloy  Q4 2020 Earnings 

 

Big tech weighs, Natwest rounds off solid quarter for UK banks

Morning Note

European shares once again fell and then tried to come off the flatline in early trade on Friday after another down day in the previous session, but the mood is pessimistic.

The FTSE 100 is trading above 5,500 but with little support under 5,400 we could yet see a retest of the March lows at 5,000-4,800.

Wall Street rallied as the bulls put in a solid defence with the S&P 500 recovering 3,300. Big tech earnings beat expectations yet shares fell after hours and this weighed on the futures, which are pointing to a weak open for the US market. Bear in mind also month-end flows which are helping muddy the waters.

The US dollar surged with US yields moving higher yesterday. DXY advanced to near-term resistance at the top of the October range at 94. WTI (Dec) sank amid the broad risk-off tone yesterday and demand fears were to the fore.

US jobless claims fell and GDP in the world’s largest economy rebounded a little more than expected in the third quarter, but none of this matters much since the market is entirely focused on the spread of new cases and lockdown measures.

The annualized 33.1% bounce in the third quarter masks the fact the economy is 15% smaller than it was before the pandemic hit. The pace of the recovery is slowing in the fourth quarter albeit it remains on a sure enough footing compared to Europe (lockdowns to blame there), whilst the glow from the $600-a-week stimulus cheques (which stopped at the end of July) is dimming quickly. And whilst we believe new stimulus measures are coming over the hill, the longer the delay the tougher it becomes for Main Street.

The European Central Bank (ECB) didn’t do anything but sounded more dovish and signalled it is ready to act in December by pumping up its emergency quantitative easing programme.

In fact, there was overall a surprisingly strong pre-commitment to taking additional easing measures in December. It’s all but a down deal now that France and Germany have locked down and the economy is heading for another recession.

The euro fell, weighed down by the dollar’s advance but also because of the ECB’s stance. Christine Lagarde said staff were working on recalibrating all instruments, which means even interest rates could be cut further in addition to expanding QE envelopes.

EURUSD dropped to take a 1.16 handle but found support at the 100-day SMA at 1.1650. Cable traded weaker, briefly taking a 1.28 handle but caught some bid around the 1.29 level to steady the ship. 100-day SMA at 1.2877 offers the near-term support under here.

More upbeat numbers from the high street banks with Natwest this morning reporting Q3 operating profit more than twice market estimates at £355m vs ~£130m expected.

Impairments were half the market expectations at £254m vs over £550m expected. CET1 very strong at 18.2%, net interest margin down 2bps to 1.65%. A good set of numbers to round off a strong performance by the UK banks but doubts remain about a potential increase in impairments down the road, weak economic growth in the UK, Brexit challenges, and the threat of negative rates eating away at margins.

Big tech reported earnings that showed its resilience to the virus but also betrayed just how richly priced these stocks are in the wake of the pandemic. With the exception of Google parent Alphabet, shares fell across the board after hours, which weighed on US futures overnight.

Alphabet shares rose over 6% in after-hours trading as earnings indicated a bounce back in the search business. EPS of $16.40 beat the $11.29 expected, on revenues of $46.17bn. Advertising revenue rose to $37.10bn, compared to $33.80 bn in the year-ago quarter. YouTube +32% was notably strong. Alphabet will start breaking out its cloud earnings performance from the next quarter.

Amazon posted a blowout third quarter of revenue growth and is poised to capitalise on a record Christmas shopping season. Net income rose to $6.3bn vs $2.1bn in the same quarter a year before despite spending significant amounts on coping with the virus.

In total, Amazon has incurred more than $7.5bn in incremental Covid-related costs in the first three quarters of 2020, and expects to incur approximately $4bn in Q4, CFO Brian Olsavsky said. AWS net sales rose 29% to $11.bn. Shars slipped almost 2% in the after-hours market.

Facebook shares fell 3% after-market as it posted a decline in North American users and signalled more uncertainty ahead. Revenue +22% to $21.47bn was a beat to expectations, whilst net income was +29% to $7.85bn. Whilst the shift offline to online among business and retail is a powerful tailwind for the advertising earnings, shares priced for lots of growth are just as sensitive to user numbers and the drop in core US/Canada users is a concern.

Similarly, Twitter shares got whacked after hours as it too posted a disappointing user growth story. Revenues rose 14% to $936m in the quarter, but the +1m gain on daily active users to 187m was short of the 195m expected.

Finally, Apple shares fell 5% after hours as a 20% decline in iPhone revenues weighed on the stock, whilst the lack of any guidance for 2021 was taken as a negative.

Whilst Mac and iPad sales rose strongly over the company’s fiscal fourth quarter, it was not enough to offset the drop in iPhone sales. However, with the quarter covering the period immediately before the launch of the iPhone 12, we would think that weakness in iPhones will prove fleeting.

Mac revenues +28% to $9bn and iPad sales +46% to $6.8bn partially offset iPhone’s –20.7% to $26.44bn. EPS of $0.73 beat the $0.70 expected, whilst overall group revenues rose 1%. Services continues to do well, with revenues +16.3% to $14.55bn.

Uncertainty around the virus means Apple continues to not offer guidance, however Tim Cook said he was optimistic about the iPhone 12 and is ‘confident’ Apple will grow in Q1 2021. Ecosystem is still the biggest draw and should support the multiple expansion.

Week Ahead: Big tech earnings to drive pre-election volatility

Week Ahead

It’s set to be a volatile week for US markets as earnings season continues on Wall Street with Big Tech reporting. Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Alphabet and Facebook are among the biggest names delivering their quarterly updates. Meanwhile central banks are in action aplenty with the Bank of Japan, Bank of Canada and European Central Bank all holding policy meetings. And we of course countdown to November’s US presidential election with all eyes on the Vix. 

Big Tech Earnings 

It’s a massive week for corporate earnings and the focus will undoubtedly fall on  the FAANGs with Apple (AAPL), Amazon (AMZN), Alphabet (GOOGL) and Facebook (FB) all set to report quarterly earnings figures on Thursday. Earnings come amid scrutiny on big tech as the US Department of Justice opened an antitrust case against Google’s parent company, Alphabet, which focuses on agreements it has made with handset manufacturers and carriers to be the default search engine on new phones. Whilst investors have shrugged this off so far, earnings may well provide fuel for greater volatility in the stock. 

Meanwhile there are fears that the case could create headwinds for Apple’s services business. The DOJ said Apple earns between $8 billion and $12 billion from Google, which would equate to between 17% and 26% of Apple’s revenues from Services last year. Apple recently released its iPhone12 but increasingly the reason for the stock’s higher multiples is about the ecosystem and Services revenues. Nevertheless, analysts remain bullish on these tech giants and they remain among the biggest winners YTDMicrosoft reports on Tuesday and there are dozens of large cap stocks reporting over the next few days. 

ECB  

With the euro gaining ground again versus the US dollar, attention in the FX markets will be on the European Central Bank (ECB) meeting on Thursday. Markets are increasingly betting on the ECB carrying out further easing in a bid to boost faltering economic growth and stagnant prices. The Eurozone slid into its second straight month of deflation in September and with further lockdowns being imposed across the bloc, the risks to the economic outlook have clearly deteriorated since the last meeting. The threat of a double dip recession is real, with Christine Lagarde saying recently that the resurgence of the virus is a clear risk to the economy. Given the murky outlook and dreadful inflation backdrop it seems all but certain the ECB will increase its bond buying programme by another €500bn by December. 

To get a flavour of the mood in the ECB, the usually hawkish Austrian central bank head Robert Holzmann, said recently: “More durable, extensive or strict containment measures will likely require more monetary and fiscal accommodation in the short run.” 

Meanwhile there are also meetings of the Bank of Japan and Bank of Canada taking place this week. 

Economic Data 

The advanced reading for US GDP growth in the third quarter will be the highlight as markets look for clues to the pace and sustainability of the recovery.  The economy is expected growth in the region of 30% as businesses reopened following lockdowns. The Atlanta Fed’s forecast indicates the economy will have expanded by 35% on a quarterly basis – but this of course masks the real damage when it’s coming off the back of a 31% drop in Q2. The GDP reading comes at an opportune moment for Donald Trump who will be able to proclaim that the economy is on fire. 

Election Watch 

The final straight: polling data may not change much – the number of undecided voters has been small. Biden commands a strong national lead but in the key battlegrounds that will determine the result it’s tighter. We’re hosting a special pre-election live event on Nov 2nd to run through how the markets might react.  

Top Economic Data This Week

Open the economic calendar in the platform for a full list of events.

Date  Event 
Oct 26th  German Ifo business climate 
Oct 26th  UK Nationwide house price index 
Oct 26th  US new home sales  
Oct 26th  SNB Chairman Jordan speaks 
Oct 27th  BoJ core CPI 
Oct 27th  US durable goods, core durable goods 
Oct 27th  US CB consumer confidence 
Oct 28th  Australia CPI inflation 
Oct 28th  Bank of Canada rate decision 
Oct 28th  EIA crude oil inventories 
Oct 28th  FOMC member Kaplan speaks 
Oct 29th  Bank of Japan policy statement & economic outlook 
Oct 29th  German preliminary CPI inflation 
Oct 29th  UK mortgage approvals & lending figures 
Oct 29th  US advanced GDP – Q3 
Oct 29th  US weekly jobless claims 
Oct 29th  ECB policy decision & press conference 
Oct 29th  US pending home sales 
Oct 29th  US natural gas storage 
Oct 30th  Tokyo core CPI 
Oct 30th  Japan industrial production 
Oct 30th  French flash GDP 
Oct 30th  German preliminary GDP 
Oct 30th  Eurozone CPI flash estimates 
Oct 30th  Canada GDP 
Oct 30th  US personal spending & core PCE price index 
Oct 30th  Chicago PMI 
Oct 30th  UoM consumer sentiment 

 

Top Earnings Reports This Week

Don’t forget to tune into our Daily Earnings Season Specials on XRay for more updates

Date  Company  Event 
26-Oct  SAP SE  Q3 2020 Earnings 
27-Oct  Microsoft Corp.  Q1 2021 Earnings 
27-Oct  Pfizer Inc.  Q3 2020 Earnings 
27-Oct  Ping An Insurance Co.  Q3 2020 Earnings 
27-Oct  Merck Co.  Q3 2020 Earnings 
27-Oct  Novartis AG  Q3 2020 Earnings 
27-Oct  Eli Lilly and Co.  Q3 2020 Earnings 
27-Oct  3M Co.  Q3 2020 Earnings 
27-Oct  AMD (Advanced Micro Devices) Inc.  Q3 2020 Earnings 
27-Oct  Caterpillar Inc.  Q3 2020 Earnings 
27-Oct  HSBC Holdings plc  Q3 2020 Earnings 
27-Oct  S&P Global Inc  Q3 2020 Earnings 
27-Oct  BP plc   Q3 2020 Earnings 
28-Oct  Visa Inc.  Q4 2020 Earnings 
28-Oct  MasterCard Inc.  Q3 2020 Earnings 
28-Oct  United Parcel Service Inc. (UPS)  Q3 2020 Earnings 
28-Oct  Amgen Inc.  Q3 2020 Earnings 
28-Oct  ServiceNow Inc  Q3 2020 Earnings 
28-Oct  Boeing Co.  Q3 2020 Earnings 
28-Oct  Sony Corp.  Q2 2020 Earnings 
28-Oct  GlaxoSmithKline plc (GSK)  Q3 2020 Earnings 
28-Oct  Gilead Sciences Inc.  Q3 2020 Earnings 
28-Oct  Anthem Inc.  Q3 2020 Earnings 
28-Oct  Equinix Inc  Q3 2020 Earnings 
29-Oct  Apple Inc.  Q4 2020 Earnings 
29-Oct  Amazon  Q3 2020 Earnings 
29-Oct  Alphabet  Q3 2020 Earnings 
29-Oct  Facebook Inc.  Q3 2020 Earnings 
29-Oct  Samsung  Q3 2020 Earnings 
29-Oct  China Life Insurance Co Ltd (A)  Q3 2020 Earnings 
29-Oct  Comcast Corp. (Class A)  Q3 2020 Earnings 
29-Oct  Shopify Inc (A)  Q3 2020 Earnings 
29-Oct  Sanofi S.A.  Q3 2020 Earnings 
29-Oct  AB InBev SA-NV (Anheuser-Busch InBev)  Q3 2020 Earnings 
29-Oct  American Tower Corp.  Q3 2020 Earnings 
29-Oct  Starbucks Corp.  Q4 2020 Earnings 
29-Oct  Shell (Royal Dutch Shell)  Q3 2020 Earnings 
29-Oct  Volkswagen (VW) St.  Q3 2020 Earnings 
29-Oct  Stryker Corp.  Q3 2020 Earnings 
29-Oct  China Petroleum & Chemical (Sinopec) (A)  Q3 2020 Earnings 
29-Oct  China Life Insurance Co. Ltd.  Q3 2020 Earnings 
30-Oct  China Construction Bank Corp.  Q3 2020 Earnings 
30-Oct  AbbVie Inc  Q3 2020 Earnings 
30-Oct  ExxonMobil Corp. (Exxon Mobil)  Q3 2020 Earnings 
30-Oct  Chevron Corp.  Q3 2020 Earnings 
30-Oct  Honeywell  Q3 2020 Earnings 
30-Oct  PetroChina Co Ltd (A)  Q3 2020 Earnings 
30-Oct  Postal Savings Bank of China Registered Shs -A-  Q3 2020 Earnings 
30-Oct  TOTAL S.A.  Q3 2020 Earnings 
30-Oct  AUDI AG  Q3 2020 Earnings 
30-Oct  Altria Inc.  Q3 2020 Earnings 
30-Oct  Colgate-Palmolive Co.  Q3 2020 Earnings 
31-Oct  Berkshire Hathaway Inc.  Q3 2020 Earnings 
31-Oct  Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd (A)  Q3 2020 Earnings 
31-Oct  Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd.  Q3 2020 Earnings 
31-Oct  China Merchants Bank Co Ltd.  Q3 2020 Earnings 
31-Oct  Bank of China Ltd  Q3 2020 Earnings 

 

Amazon earnings – what to expect from Q2?

Equities

Amazon (AMZN) is due to report earnings July 30th and is set for another strong quarter of revenue growth, albeit costs are also increasing. The stock has jumped more than 60% YTD – can the rally continue?

First of all, the range of estimates for the second quarter is unusually wide and is extremely hard to navigate.

Amazon’s own Second Quarter 2020 Guidance

Net sales are expected to be between $75.0 billion and $81.0 billion, or to grow between 18% and 28% compared with second quarter 2019. This guidance anticipates an unfavourable impact of approximately 70 basis points from foreign exchange rates.

Operating income (loss) is expected to be between $(1.5) billion and $1.5 billion, compared with $3.1 billion in second quarter 2019. This guidance assumes approximately $4.0 billion of costs related to COVID-19.

What the analysts think of Amazon

Cowen 5-star analyst John Blackledge expects Amazon to deliver another strong quarter of growth with revenue and operating income at the high end of the guided range. The key drivers will be AWS, Advertising and an acceleration in e-commerce growth, which he says will post +29% growth vs +17% in Q2 2019.

Investors should be able to shrug off upwards of $4bn in Covid-related investments flagged in the last earnings release as likely weighing on Q2 EPS numbers. As ever with this kind of growth stock, EPS can be lumpy.

EPS will also be determined by AWS growth. Last quarter AWS revenues exceeded $10bn for the first time and whilst it generated 13.5% of total revenue, it delivered 77% of operating income. However as flagged in the past, the growth in AWS is slowing.

Overall analysts remain very bullish…

And hedge funds still like this stock…

Amazon share price: technical signals calling for pullback closer to 200-day moving average?

MACD crossover looks bearish, whilst the recent extension beyond the 200-day moving average has historically preceded a pullback. More broadly we are starting to see signs that the Nasdaq and tech stocks are retracing some gains after the run up in the second quarter.

Bank of England wheels for fresh charge

Morning Note

Central banks need to be marshalled like cavalry and stimulus like charges. If your stimulus doesn’t rout the enemy immediately, you can easily get bogged down in a melee in which you lose your advantage. The Federal Reserve keeps wheeling around and managing to rally troops for fresh charges – the corporate bond buying announcement this week was a fine example.

But increasingly the cavalry is wearying and the more this drags on the less impact the Fed’s repeated charges will have against the twin enemies of deflation and unemployment. Investors are clinging on to central bank stimulus like the Gordon Highlanders gripped the stirrups of the Scots Greys, as they rode down the French columns at Waterloo.

BoE preview: more QE on the way

The Bank of England will mount a fresh charge at the enemy formations today. Coordination is the name of the game: it needs to keep on top of the huge amount of issuance – borrowing – by the UK government. Wartime levels of debt means the BoE must expand the envelope to hoover it up or risk yields starting to rise and spreads widening.

So, the BoE is expected to increase QE by at least £100bn, but I think it may well opt for £200bn, or even more, given that even £100bn would only last it until the end of the summer and the real long-term economic problems are going to emerge later in the autumn. Interest rates will stay at 0.1% and expectations firmly anchored for the near future with forward guidance repeating that the Bank will do whatever it takes.

In order to achieve this, the government and central bank will need to coordinate throwing more money at the problem. Indications suggest furlough has been costly but only delayed a lot of the pain – a looming unemployment crisis will require further central bank support, which means more QE is likely.  And don’t talk about negative interest rates – Andrew Bailey mentioned it once, but I think he got away with it. Once you go negative, it’s very hard to get back to normal.

Whilst fresh forecasts are not due until August, the Bank will likely set a more defensive tone in terms of its expectations for the recovery. As noted here on May 7th (BoE: for illustrative purposes only) the Bank’s assumptions on economic recovery seem rather optimistic.

Sterling was steady ahead of the decision. GBPUSD held around the middle of its trading range, sitting on the 38.2% retracement of the bottom-to-top rally from the May low to the Jun high. Monday’s test of the 1.2450 (50% level) remains the support whilst the upside seems well guarded by the 200-day moving average just above 1.2690 that sparked the run lower since Tuesday.

Stocks on the back foot on fears of second Covid-19 wave

Wall Street stocks fell yesterday, except for tech, whilst European markets are on the back foot this morning as investors parse new cases in the US and China. The bulls lost energy as new hospitalisations in Texas due to Covid-19 rose 11% in the space of 24hrs. Several other US states are seeing rising cases that are a worry, albeit the kind of mass lockdown seen earlier this year appears an unlikely course of action. The economic damage is too high, and we are generally better equipped to handle it.

Worries about China are also important – markets had largely not bet on a second lockdown in the world’s second largest economy.

Overall, the market swings now suggest investors are reacting to various headlines about recovery, stimulus and new cases without much clear direction as to what it all means as a bigger picture. The major indices are right in the middle of recent trading ranges, sitting around the 50-60% retracements of the move from the multi-month highs at the start of last week to the swing lows this week.

Elsewhere, the US pulled out of talks with Europe over a global digital services tax, which raises the risk of individual countries taking their own steps, in turn sparking a fresh wave of US-EU tensions. An escalation of dormant trade wars is not out of the question if EU nations and the UK decide to tax US tech giants aggressively.

This comes of course after the EU launched an anti-trust probe into Amazon. In Europe, Germany passed additional fiscal stimulus to combat the pandemic costs. This morning Angela Merkel called on the EU to agree to the Covid fund before the summer break.

Crude steady on EIA inventories data

Crude prices were steady as they hold within the consolidation pattern printed since the start of June. WTI for August was holding around the $38 marker after the EIA inventories rose 1.2m barrels, vs expectations for a draw.

This matched the API data (+3.9m) and suggests there are more supply-side pressures at present, but OPEC data indicated demand not falling as much as previously expected in the second half of the year. Meanwhile it seems Iraq is working its way towards complying with OPEC+ cuts.

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