With a slew of technology companies reporting financial results this week, all eyes are on how investors will respond after a series of recent disappointing results from the biggest names in tech—including Alphabet, Microsoft, Meta, and Amazon—rattled investors about the industry’s outlook.
As tech stocks continued to take a beating this week, Wall Street analysts warn that could be bad news for the broader economy, as lackluster earnings results likely signal that inflation and high interest rates are squeezing households and businesses more than expected.
The latest slump adds to an already disappointing year for tech stocks, which were some of the biggest winners during the early stages of the pandemic. The tech-heavy Nasdaq has lost almost 30% of its value this year, compared with the S&P 500’s 19% decline since the beginning of 2022. The Nasdaq’s tumble was hastened late last week by weak third quarter earnings from Alphabet, Microsoft, Meta, and Amazon—all industry heavyweights that financial analysts often look to when assessing the economy’s outlook.
This quarter’s earnings season will go down in the history books “as one of Big Tech’s worst” and could be a “fork in the road moment” for some of the biggest companies, wrote Wedbush Securities analyst Dan Ives in a recent research note.
“In this softer macro and a recession likely on the doorstep, Big Tech management teams needs to quickly adjust to a much different backdrop or risks losing its luster for investors that have bet on these tech thoroughbreds for the past decade,” he said.
Among big tech companies, Apple has been an outlier of late. Its shares are down nearly 16% since the start of the year, but in the last month, its stock price is up more than 7%, thanks in large part to an increase in Mac sales and growing revenue. Analysts say Apple is in better shape than its Big Tech peers since demand for its products remains high around the world, even in emerging markets, despite a decline in global sales for smartphones and PCs.
This week, analysts will turn their attention to a host of smaller tech companies, including AirBnB, eBay, Qualcomm, Paypal, Uber and Zillow, for a deeper reading of the economic forecast.
Here’s what you need to know about the tech stocks slump.
Why tech stocks are plummeting
Wall Street analysts say a number of factors are knocking the wind out of the markets, including the highest inflation in 40 years, rising interest rates, and the strong U.S. dollar—which hurts multinational companies since they earn less when converting their foreign sales into dollars.
The Federal Reserve last raised interest rates in September by 75 basis points, which means consumers will pay more for interest on vehicle financing and other loans. Analysts say the swift rise in interest rates has forced investors to rethink whether stocks that flourished in an environment with low interest rates would be able to continue to succeed in an environment with higher interest rates. The uncertainty and flurry of question marks is one reason investors are taking less risks on tech companies, which tend to perform worse when interest rates are higher and borrowing is more expensive.
Moves like these can make Wall Street anxious, as investors fear rising interest rates could make borrowing more expensive for corporations and households, thereby stifling economic growth and potentially leading to a recession.
Tech companies are also finding it more difficult to grow sales as digital advertising and other revenue streams slow. “All of these companies are to some extent dependent on advertising revenue,” says Emily Bowersock Hill, chief executive of Bowersock Capital Partners, a financial management firm. “That is a real sign of weakness in the economy that those revenues are declining,” adds Bowersock Hill, who is also chairwoman of the investment committee of the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System, a pension fund with more than $20 billion.
Microsoft, which is down 1.59% at closing on Monday, reported its weakest quarterly revenue growth in five years, throttled by rising energy costs and a slump in sales of Windows software to personal-computer makers. Sales growth in its cloud business was also lower than analysts had hoped.
Alphabet, Google’s parent company, announced that its profit dropped 27% over the previous year as advertisers spent less on marketing for insurance, loans and mortgages. The company’s revenue of $57.27 billion was also slightly lower than Wall Street expected. Its stock is down 1.85% at Monday’s close.
Meta’s stock dropped to its lowest level since 2016 on Thursday, down more than 20%, after it reported a second quarterly drop in revenue and rising costs at its money-losing metaverse division. Meta’s stock fell another 6.09% by closing on Monday.
Amazon shares plunged 7% on Friday after the company predicted weaker holiday sales than analysts had expected. The company’s cloud business also reported its slowest growth rate since 2014. Amazon fell another 0.94% by closing on Monday.
“When we’re getting these kinds of declines, it’s a clear signal that the economy is slowing down,” says Bowersock Hill. “The fact that Big Tech earnings are coming in worse than expected is a big indicator about the broader economy.”
The difficult road ahead
Despite the uncertainty around Big Tech stocks, the overall economy isn’t in terrible shape. Usually when consumers feel badly about the economy, they start to pull back on spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of all domestic economic activity. But consumer spending expanded in the July-September quarter, and the U.S. economy returned to growth, snapping two straight quarters of economic contraction despite high inflation and interest rates.
Even so, disappointing earnings from the tech heavyweights may turn the broader market south, given the immense market value of those stocks and the industry’s tendency to foreshadow where the economy is headed. Tech stocks are particularly sensitive to inflation, rising interest rates and a strong dollar, similar to the broader economy.
“It looks like we are going to hit a recession and tech companies have to get prepared for it,” says Dr. Soudip Roy Chowdhury, CEO of Eugenie.ai, a sustainability tech company. “Some of the biggest tech companies are already slowing down hiring, some will have layoffs.”
Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai said on the company’s earnings call that Alphabet would have to be “responsive to the economic environment,” suggesting that cost-cutting measures like layoffs are coming. Additionally, Amazon Chief Financial Officer Brian Olsavsky said that the company would be “taking actions to tighten our belts, including pausing hiring in certain businesses and winding down products and services where we believe our resources are better spent elsewhere.”
But financial analysts like Bowersock Hill don’t believe the market will see the same lows as it did earlier this summer, when investors dumped shares of everything from semiconductor companies to gadget-makers—at least not right now. “We may not actually see the full impact on earnings of rate hikes and the significant appreciation of the dollar until the fourth quarter earnings season,” she says. “We’re going to have a hard winter. I think the Big Tech earnings are just indicators of the cracks starting to appear.”
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Surprise Growth Makes South Africa’s Economy Bigger Than Before Pandemic Struck – BNN Bloomberg
(Bloomberg) — South Africa’s economy is bigger than before the coronavirus pandemic struck, after growing faster-than-expected in the third quarter on increased farm output.
Gross domestic product expanded 1.6% in the three months through September, compared with a contraction of 0.7% in the previous quarter, Statistics South Africa said Tuesday in a report released in the capital, Pretoria. The median of 12 economists’ estimates in a Bloomberg survey was for growth of 0.4%. The economy grew 4.1% from a year earlier.
Full-year growth may also surprise on the upside. The central bank forecasts an expansion of 1.8% and the National Treasury 1.9%. For the nine months through September, an early indicator of where full-year growth may land, GDP grew by 2.3% from last year.
The 2.3% expansion in the first three quarters is a “reasonable indicator” of the annual number, said Joe de Beer, deputy director-general of economic statistics at the agency. “I can’t see it differing by more than” half a percentage point “from just a mathematics point of view,” he said.
“After taking into account the firmer-than-expected third-quarter figure, we expect growth to average closer to 2.5% in 2022, before slowing to just above 1% next year,” said Sanisha Packirisamy, an economist at Momentum Investments.
At an annualized 4.6 trillion rand ($265 billion) in the third quarter, GDP is about 53 billion rand bigger than the fourth quarter of 2019, before the pandemic struck. A contraction in the prior three months had reversed gains made in the first quarter that made it bigger.
The quarterly expansion comes even after Africa’s most-industrialized economy experienced record power cuts because state electricity utility Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. couldn’t keep pace with demand from its old and poorly maintained plants. Industries behind the better-than-expected growth were agriculture and transport, which grew 19.2% and 3.7% quarter-on-quarter respectively.
Strong exports of mineral, vegetable and paper products also contributed.
Still, South Africa’s economy remains stuck in its longest downward phase since World War II and hasn’t grown by more than 5% annually in 15 years. The government’s National Development Plan, a 2012 economic blueprint co-authored by President Cyril Ramaphosa, says that level of expansion is needed for sustainable job creation in a nation where almost a third of the workforce is unemployed.
Slow structural reforms, political uncertainty and high levels of crime continue to weigh on fixed-investment spending in South Africa, with private companies wary of committing large sums of money to domestic projects. Gross fixed capital formation climbed 0.3% from the previous quarter.
Household spending, which comprises about two-thirds of GDP, declined 0.3% in the third quarter. It’s likely to come under further strain from high inflation and interest rates that are at a level last seen more than five years ago.
Weak growth is forecast for the final quarter because of continued rolling blackouts and a strike over wages that took place at Transnet SOC Ltd., South Africa’s state-owned logistics company that operates most of the harbors in the nation, in October. The central bank forecasts expansion of 0.1% this quarter.
Lackluster economic growth and mounting price pressures pose a threat to social stability in one of the world’s most unequal societies and may stymie efforts to reduce fiscal deficits and debt.
–With assistance from Simbarashe Gumbo and Rene Vollgraaff.
(Updates with economist comment in paragraph five. An earlier version corrected household spending figure in paragraph 11)
©2022 Bloomberg L.P.
World Economy Heads for One of Its Worst Years in Three Decades – BNN Bloomberg
(Bloomberg) — The world economy is facing one of its worst years in the three decades as the energy shocks unleashed by the war in Ukraine continue to reverberate, according to Bloomberg Economics.
In a new analysis, economist Scott Johnson forecasts growth of just 2.4% in 2023. That’s down from an estimated 3.2% this year and the lowest — excluding the crisis years of 2009 and 2020 — since 1993.
However, the headline figure is likely to mask diverging fortunes, with the euro area starting 2023 in recession and the US ending the year in one. By contrast, China is projected to expand more than 5%, boosted by a faster-than-expected end to its zero-tolerance Covid strategy and support for its crisis-hit property market.
Differences will also be on display when it comes to monetary policy after a year in which central banks “dashed toward restrictive territory in a pack,” Johnson wrote.
“In the US, with wage gains set to keep inflation above target, we think the Fed is headed toward a terminal rate of 5%, and will stay there till 1Q24. In the euro area, meanwhile, a more rapid decline in inflation will mean a lower terminal rate and the possibility of cuts at the end of 2023.”
In China, where authorities are torn between a desire to support the recovery and concern about the weakness of the currency, “limited” rate cuts are on the cards.
Read more: Global Growth Set to Slow From 3.2% in 2022 to 2.4% in 2023
©2022 Bloomberg L.P.
Securing good jobs, clean air, and a strong economy – Prime Minister of Canada
Autoworkers have been a keystone of the Canadian economy for generations. By investing in the future of the auto industry, we are not only securing good middle-class jobs, we are fighting climate change, and building an economy that works for generations to come.
Since January alone, Canada has secured several historic manufacturing deals for electric vehicles (EVs), hybrids, and batteries – deals that will create and secure thousands of good, middle-class jobs and provide the world with clean vehicles. Today, we are seeing the results of one of those deals start to roll off the line.
The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, was joined today by Premier of Ontario, Doug Ford, to open Canada’s first full-scale EV manufacturing plant, General Motors of Canada Company’s (GM) CAMI assembly plant in Ingersoll, Ontario. Starting today and going forward, the plant will build fully electric delivery vans – the BrightDrop Zevo 600 – which will help cut pollution and keep our communities healthy for our children and grandchildren.
Thanks in part to a $259 million investment from the Government of Canada, GM’s CAMI assembly plant was able to retool its operations to build these electric vans. By 2025, the plant plans to manufacture 50,000 EVs per year. This investment has helped secure thousands of well-paying, high-quality jobs across GM facilities, and is helping advance the electrification of Canada’s automotive sector.
The Government of Canada will continue to work to attract investment from companies around the world as we build our EV supply chain – from mining critical minerals to manufacturing batteries, and vehicles. By taking action today, we are positioning Canada as a global leader in EVs, fighting climate change, securing good jobs, and building an economy that works for all Canadians – now and into the future.
“When we invested in GM’s project to build Canada’s first full-scale electric vehicle manufacturing plant in Ingersoll, we knew it would deliver results. Today, as the first BrightDrop van rolls off the line, that’s exactly what we’re seeing. This plant has secured good jobs for workers, it is positioning Canada as a leader on EVs, and will help cut pollution. Good jobs, clean air, and a strong economy – together, that’s the future we can build.”
“Today is proof that our historic investments in EV manufacturing are paying off. With the first BrightDrop vans coming off the assembly line, we’re seeing the skill of Canadian workers making a huge difference as the world moves to EVs. Our government, in partnership with GM, is cementing Canada’s leadership in the EV supply chain.”
“This milestone represents GM at our best – fast, flexible and first in the industry. The BrightDrop Zevo is a prime example of GM’s flexible Ultium EV architecture, which is allowing us to quickly launch a full range of electric vehicles for our customers. And, as of today, I am proud to call the CAMI EV Assembly team the first full-scale all-electric manufacturing team in Canada.”
“This is a very exciting moment – a revolution in the way we transport people and goods. Today marks a huge day for BrightDrop, as we expand our footprint and begin producing the Zevo electric vans at scale, and a huge milestone for Canada on the road to a brighter future. Opening the CAMI plant is a major step in providing EVs at scale and delivering real results to the world’s biggest brands, like DHL Express, who will be our first Canadian customer.”
- The Government of Canada’s $259 million investment supports GM’s more than $2 billion project to reignite production at its Oshawa assembly plant, after operations stopped in 2019, and transform its CAMI assembly plant in Ingersoll.
- The investment is being made through both the Strategic Innovation Fund and its Net Zero Accelerator Initiative.
- The Government of Ontario made a matching contribution of up to $259 million toward the project.
- Founded in 1918, General Motors of Canada Company (GM) is one of the largest automotive manufacturers worldwide. It is headquartered in Oshawa, Ontario, and is one of Canada’s largest automotive manufacturers.
- GM is planning to introduce 30 new electric vehicles by 2025, eliminate tailpipe emissions from new light-duty vehicles by 2035, and become carbon neutral in its global products and operations by 2040.
- The automotive sector contributes $16 billion to Canada’s gross domestic product and is one of the country’s largest export industries.
- The automotive sector supports the employment of nearly 500,000 Canadians.
- The 2030 Emissions Reductions Plan, released in March, puts Canada on track to achieving our goal of cutting emissions by 40 to 45 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030 while continuing to build a strong economy.
- To make zero-emission vehicles more affordable and accessible, the Government of Canada offers incentives of up to $5,000 off the purchase or lease of a light-duty zero-emission vehicle through the Incentives for Zero-Emission Vehicles (iZEV) Program. Since May 2019, close to 176,000 Canadians have taken advantage of this program.
- Since 2015, the Government of Canada has invested $400 million in building approximately 35,000 zero-emission vehicle charging stations across the country.
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