Daily Brief: This Apple Vs. Facebook Standoff Is Just Getting Interesting

Daily Brief: This Apple Vs. Facebook Standoff Is Just Getting Interesting

over 2 years ago3 mins

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Facebook announced better-than-expected quarterly earnings late on Wednesday, but investors – noticing that users seem weirdly uncool about being watched non-stop – sent its shares down 4%.

What does this mean?

Just as Snap Inc. and Twitter’s updates suggested last week, the digital ad market has been going from strength to strength. And given that Facebook now has 2.9 billion monthly active users – up from 2.7 billion this time last year – and makes virtually all its money by selling their eyeballs to advertisers, the company’s revenue jumped by a better-than-expected 56%.

Facebook MAU

Trouble was, that was only a 7% uptick in user numbers – the company’s slowest growth in years. What’s more, Facebook warned that sales growth will slow down significantly for the rest of the year too. That might have something to do with Apple’s recent privacy changes, which have made it harder for advertisers on Facebook to target iOS users – in turn denting one of its most lucrative sources of revenue.

Facebook ad revenue

Why should I care?

The bigger picture: Everything’s back to normal, right?

Facebook’s announcement comes just a day after positive updates from Apple, Microsoft, and Alphabet. These four companies have now posted a combined profit of around $67 billion in a record-busting quarter, as they ride a resurgence in consumer and business spending that suggests the worst of the pandemic-induced impact is a thing of the past.

Bigger tech

For markets: If it’s good enough for hedge funds…

Facebook is one of hedge funds’ favorite stocks right now: 27% of them own shares in the social media giant – more than any other single stock – and 57% of those have it as a top ten holding. That could be an encouraging sign: over the last 18 years, the stocks that have seen the biggest increase in hedge fund ownership have usually gone on to outperform their sector rivals in the next few quarters.

Keep reading for our next story...

McDonald's Posted Tasty Earnings

McDonald’s image

McDonald’s posted strong quarterly earnings on Wednesday, but the fast food giant’s investors might not want to count their McChickens before they McHatch.

What does this mean?

Dadadadadaaa, McDonald’s was certainly lovin’ it: the company saw its sales grow by a better-than-expected 57% last quarter versus the same period last year. Stores in international markets benefited from fewer pandemic-related closures, while those in the US – all 14,000 of them – were boosted by both higher prices and its new, in-demand chicken sandwich.

These results are the latest sign that McDonald’s has emerged from a tough year stronger than ever. That’s mostly down to some deft pivoting: the firm invested heavily in expanding its online and mobile order capabilities during the pandemic, which drove digital orders in its top six markets up 70% this year compared to the same period in 2020. And McDonald’s has no intention of letting those sales slip, launching a loyalty program earlier this month that’s already attracted more than 12 million Americans.

Burger bliss

Why should I care?

For markets: Sleep with one eye open.

Still, McDonald’s did have a couple of warnings for investors. For one thing, resurgent coronavirus cases are prompting new restrictions in some countries that could hurt this quarter’s sales. And for another, the company’s restaurants are battling with higher costs – for labor, food, and packaging – which could dent its profits if it can’t offset them with higher prices.

Zooming out: Keep those vaccines coming.

There is some good news in the ongoing head-to-head with the pandemic, though: US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer – which sells one of the most widely used coronavirus vaccines – said it’s delivered more than 1 billion doses of the shot globally, and it’s expecting that to top 2 billion by the end of the year. That was enough to convince the company to increase its revenue forecast from the vaccine by nearly a third to a cool $33 billion.

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