Nov 2, 2017

What Russia probe? Tech companies hit record earnings

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio / Axios

Google, Facebook and Twitter announced record third quarter earnings over the past two weeks, despite facing one of the toughest PR crisis in years, with two days of televised congressional probes into the ways Russians used their platforms to meddle in the 2016 elections.

Why it matters: While users say they are worried about Russian influence in elections and are concerned over the way tech companies police themselves and protect their data, these issues haven't made the platforms any less popular. And while advertisers report feeling more concerned about brand safety on those platforms, the reach and efficiency of their ad networks has proven strong enough to outweigh those concerns.

Sound smart: Record earnings don't mean these companies are immune from Russia fallout. It just means the consequences of the probes have not yet caught up to the people that fuel their businesses. And we don't know if and when they ever will.

Notable: No one from Wall Street on Google or Twitter's earnings calls asked the companies about the Russia probe, fake news or how any of it is affecting their businesses. And executives from Google and Twitter never even mentioned it.

Facebook, on the other hand, addressed it multiple times and was asked about it twice. Mark Zuckerberg opened the earnings call talking about the user growth, followed by the Russia probe. "I'm dead serious about this," he told investors.

  • Alphabet, Google's parent company, saw shares rise 4% in after-hours trading last Thursday, after the company announced that it increased total revenue by 24% year over year to $27.77 billion, beating Wall Street analysts' expectations of $27.2 billion. The company's profit rose 29% to $5.43 billion, a strong recovery from its second quarter, when it took a profit hit due to a massive European antitrust penalty that was realized over the summer.
  • Twitter stock was up more than 10% in pre-market trading last Thursday after the company announced that it beat revenue and growth expectations. The company announced that it's closer to profitability than it has been since going public four years ago, and it increased its Daily Active User (DAU) base 14% year over year — a huge feat considering user growth had remained nearly stagnant for the year prior.
  • Facebook hit record revenue and profits Wednesday, despite previous concerns over ad revenue growth due to a slowed ad load in the News Feed. The company saw profits of $1.59 per share, beating Wall Street estimates of $1.28 per share, and saw a 47% increase in year over year revenue to $10.3 billion — the highest quarterly revenue it has posted to date.

Go deeper

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 665,164 — Total deaths: 30,852 — Total recoveries: 140,225.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in cases. Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 124,665 — Total deaths: 2,191 — Total recoveries: 1,095.
  3. Federal government latest: President Trump announces new travel advisories for New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, but rules out quarantine enforcement. Per the CDC, residents of those states must now "refrain from non-essential domestic travel for 14 days," with the exception of critical infrastructure industry workers.
  4. State updates: Alaska is latest state to issue a stay-at-home order — New York is trying to nearly triple its hospital capacity in less than a month and has moved its presidential primary to June 23. Some Midwestern swing voters who backed Trump's handling of the virus less than two weeks ago are balking at his call for the U.S. to be "opened up" by Easter.
  5. World updates: In Spain, over 1,400 people were confirmed dead between Thursday to Saturday.
  6. 🚀 Space updates: OneWeb filed for bankruptcy amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.
  7. Hollywood: Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson have returned to U.S. after being treated for coronavirus.
  8. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk
  9. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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Coronavirus updates: Global death toll tops 30,000

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

The novel coronavirus has now killed more than 30,000 people around the world — with Italy reporting over 10,000 deaths, per Johns Hopkins data.

The big picture: The number of deaths from COVID-19 in the U.S. surpassed 2,000 on Saturday. The United States leads the world in confirmed coronavirus infections — more than 124,000 by early Sunday. The number of those recovered from the virus in the U.S. passed the 1,000-mark on Saturday evening.

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Gilead expands access to experimental coronavirus drug in emergency cases

Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

Gilead Sciences CEO Daniel O’Day said in an open letter Saturday the company is expanding access to its experimental anti-coronavirus drug remdesivir to include severely ill COVID-19 patients.

The big pig picture: President Trump has called the antiviral drug "promising," but the results of six clinical trials on this investigational medicine are still being conducted, so its effectiveness the treatment of the novel coronavirus has yet to be proved. The World Health Organization is involved in the tests.

Go deeperArrow3 hours ago - Health