about 1 month ago • 5 mins
The friction between the US and China has technology at its very core. Uncle Sam is worried that China is using Silicon Valley’s tech to beef up its military capability. And America’s ever-tightening restrictions on tech exports to China are beginning to show up in Nvidia’s stock price. The firm’s AI-powering chips have long been gobbled up by China, which represents at least 20% of the firm’s data center revenues. And that leaves Nvidia, then, as potential collateral damage in this global spat.
You never want to read too much into bank earnings. That’s because while they might be a good pulse check on the current state of the economy, they’re rarely helpful for anyone wanting to take a view of what’s up ahead. (More on that later). That said, it’s always good to hear that things in the economy are generally OK. And that’s basically what JPMorgan said in its latest results. It’s seeing little sign of any deterioration when it comes to credit conditions and the firm’s consumer lending business is still humming. Mind you, JPMorgan is kind of a different beast. And the more inside-Wall-Street-type firms like Goldman Sachs – the ones that make their money on huge corporate lending and merger and acquisition deals – haven’t had it so good. So when Goldman reported its results, it brought the mood down a notch.
It was a quieter week across the pond on the earnings front, but Dutch market darling ASML did get its moment to shine. Now, the semiconductor industry has been pretty flat recently. Ever since the Covid-era boom, chipmakers and their suppliers like ASML have been nursing a bit of a hangover. And unfortunately, ASML’s third-quarter new orders shrank 40% from the previous quarter. That suggests the sales drought is going to continue, at least for now. But if you’re long-term-oriented, you might just want to look past all that. After all, ASML says it expects the whole industry to turn in 2025, and that could be when AI demand goes supersonic.
China’s economic story has had more twists and turns than a bowl of chow mein noodles. And honestly, no one knows what’s up next. But right now the country is not scoring too badly against its initial economic targets. China is looking for 5% growth for 2023, and for the third quarter, the country churned out 4.9%. That’s pretty close. Perhaps more telling is the fact that the third quarter was 1.3% higher than the second, suggesting that the world’s second-biggest economy might finally be building some growth momentum.
Move over banks, it’s Big Tech’s turn at the earnings podium this week. On Tuesday, Microsoft and Alphabet report their third-quarter results, and on Wednesday, it’s Apple and Meta’s turn. Amazon takes the spotlight a day later. Look, it’s never a good idea to make too many bold prognostications on earnings – anything can happen, after all. And it’s certainly not a good idea to take any speculative real-money bets on what stock prices might do. But it is a good idea to prepare yourself for what investors will be focused on.
For Microsoft, the key thing will be the firm’s cloud services business Azure. Last quarter the company suggested that the growth slowdown there was coming to an end, so the market will want to see a yearly growth rate close to 27% for confirmation of that. It’s a similar story at Google parent Alphabet, and investors will want to see it build on its 28% second-quarter cloud growth. But it’s not all cloud. Investors will be watching closely for Microsoft’s updates on its AI-infused software Copilot and for signs that Alphabet is still making ad improvements – especially at YouTube.
For Apple, there are rumors that iPhone and Macbook sales have been underwhelming, especially in China, where Apple has already seen sales slide. And that could turn up the pressure on sales in India, as the company hunts for growth. Apple’s stock price has been slipping of late so investors probably aren't expecting a lot of fireworks.
Amazon was the star of the tech behemoths last earnings season, with revenues that topped expectations for all the firm’s business lines. Investors might not get a repeat performance this time around, but you can be sure they’ll be looking to see whether Amazon’s cloud business – AWS – has managed to pick up any pace from its surprisingly burly second-quarter 12% growth. The everything store also showed there’s life yet in the old retail business last quarter, with growth and profit coming in much better than expected. So, investors will want to see more of the same there, even though there are crosswinds everywhere when it comes to folks’ shopping habits.
Disclaimer: These articles are provided for information purposes only. Occasionally, an opinion about whether to buy or sell a specific investment may be provided. The content is not intended to be a personal recommendation to buy or sell any financial instrument or product, or to adopt any investment strategy as it is not provided based on an assessment of your investing knowledge and experience, your financial situation or your investment objectives. The value of your investments, and the income derived from them, may go down as well as up. You may not get back all the money that you invest. The investments referred to in this article may not be suitable for all investors, and if in doubt, an investor should seek advice from a qualified investment advisor.
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