Oct 29, 2020 - Economy

Earnings reports to show if tech can keep growing in a pandemic

Illustration of Apple, Google, Facebook, and Amazon logos under spotlights

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Apple, Facebook, Google and Amazon are all slated to report earnings after the markets close today, and that should give us a much better sense of how the tech industry is faring through the pandemic.

Why it matters: The reports should offer a clue of how sustainable tech's "new normal" is. That's especially important given that experts predict another and stronger wave of coronavirus in the U.S. that could force continued reliance on remote work for office employees.

The big picture: There is obviously much more to the economy, and even the digital economy, than these four companies. But their fortunes will reveal the degree to which tech companies can continue to enjoy success even with key industries like travel and entertainment still largely shut down.

  • We've already seen strong results from Microsoft, eBay and others, so there is reason to expect strength from other big tech firms.

What to watch:

  • Google (Alphabet): Last quarter Google reported the first quarter of declining revenue since the company went public. The question for this quarter is whether the ad spending pullback has leveled off or intensified, as well as what the search giant expects for the current quarter, which includes the holiday shopping season.
  • Apple: Of course, plenty of attention will be paid to the number of iPhones sold last quarter, but those sales were before the iPhone 12 launched, so more interesting will be what Apple forecasts for the current quarter. Expect the company to continue to talk up its growing services business as well.
  • Facebook: The social network is expected to show a 12% increase in revenue from a year ago — to nearly $20 billion — but profits are seen down 10%.
  • Amazon: The retailer, which has become even more vital to many Americans during the pandemic, posted a blowout quarter three months ago. The question now is, can it do the same once again?
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