under the direct management of its famous founder turned out to be a bit of a letdown. Revenue and operating income for the second quarter both fell shy of Wall Street’s estimates, as did the high end of the company’s revenue forecast for the current quarter. It was the first time the e-commerce titan missed the high end of its own sales projections in two years, according to data from FactSet.
as the largest U.S. company by annual sales some time next year, while still growing at double-digit rates. Growth at the company’s crucial AWS cloud business also picked up, with revenue jumping 37% year over year compared with a 32% rise in the last quarter. That lines up with trends shown by cloud rivals
and Google earlier this week, suggesting that the market leader, AWS, is at least holding its ground.
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But the boom in online sales Amazon enjoyed at the start of the pandemic created a challenging comparison for the most recent quarter. Thursday’s results confirmed the suspicions of some analysts that the company’s Prime Day sales event in late June underwhelmed. Amazon’s online stores segment saw revenue grow by only 16% to $53.2 billion in the second quarter, falling well short of analysts’ targets. Revenue growth from third-party and subscription services decelerated. Advertising revenue, reflected in the company’s “Other” segment, showed a strong jump of 87% year over year to $7.9 billion. But advertising still contributes only about 7% to Amazon’s total revenue.
The results create a bit more of a challenging setup for new CEO
as Amazon will face difficult comparisons for the rest of the year following its pandemic-fueled sales jump in 2020. But the bar seems low enough. The midpoint of the company’s revenue projection for the third quarter represents growth of 13% year over year. That would be Amazon’s slowest growth rate in 20 years, even with the pandemic picking back up and possibly driving more sales online.
fell more than 14% in after-hours trading, as the online sharing platform said its monthly average users in the U.S. contracted during the quarter, a trend that accelerated this month.
The company reported 91 million monthly average users in the U.S. in the quarter, down 5% from a year earlier. Pinterest said that “engagement headwinds” continued this month, with monthly average users down 7% as of July 27. Globally, monthly average users increased 9% in the quarter.
“Our second quarter results reflect both the strength of our business and the recent shift in consumer behavior we’ve seen as people spend less time at home,” Chief Executive
said in prepared remarks.
Pinterest saw its user growth soar during the pandemic, as shut-in consumers turned to the website for masks and other products. The company has said the pandemic may have pulled forward some user growth.
The company also reported Thursday second-quarter net income of $69.4 million, compared with a loss of $100.7 million a year earlier.
Adjusted earnings were 25 cents a share. Analysts polled by FactSet were expecting adjusted earnings 13 cents a share.
Revenue totaled $613.2 million, compared with $272.5 million a year earlier. Analysts expected $562 million in revenue.
Pinterest shares closed Thursday at $72.04 apiece, down 6%. So far this year, the stock is up 9.32%.
NEW DELHI—India is gearing up for tech IPOs, including two worth more than $1 billion, as startups look to tap a stock market that has proved resilient despite Covid-19.
The initial public offerings reflect the maturing of a generation of e-commerce and digital-economy companies, bankers say, many of which have grown rapidly during the pandemic as well-off city-dwellers turn to them when purchasing products from milk to medicines.
On July 16, the operator of the Paytm digital-finance app, One97 Communications Ltd., filed a prospectus for what would be India’s largest IPO in local-currency terms. The group offers services such as a mobile wallet, loans and stock-trading, and is backed by
Chinese financial-technology giant Ant Group Co. One97 aims to issue new and existing shares worth a total of up to 166 billion rupees, the equivalent of $2.23 billion.
Other companies considering IPOs include digital-payments platform One MobiKwik Systems Ltd., which filed its prospectus earlier this month, and logistics and supply-chain-services provider Delhivery Pvt., according to a company spokeswoman. Online cosmetics seller Nykaa E-Retail Pvt., API Holdings Pvt., the parent company of online pharmacy PharmEasy, and PB Fintech Pvt., the parent of insurance aggregator Policybazaar.com, are also considering listings, according to people familiar with their plans.
“This is the first set of these companies coming to the public market” in India, said
the head of investment banking for India at the local unit of
Demand for the shares is likely to be strong, given the companies’ brand recognition, said Mr. Kulkarni, who is also the bank’s co-head of investment banking for South and Southeast Asia. “Most of these companies are offering products, services or capabilities which millions, if not hundreds of millions, of customers are utilizing on a day-to-day basis,” he said.
Last week investors placed orders worth 38 times the shares being offered by Zomato Ltd., India’s answer to
The food-delivery group raised around 94 billion rupees, the equivalent of $1.26 billion, and its shares are due to start trading on July 27.
Some market-watchers say Indian tech has plenty of room to grow, as more consumption shifts online. Earlier-stage investors have poured about $16 billion into Indian startups this year, creating 16 new unicorns—young private companies valued at $1 billion or more—according to data firm Venture Intelligence.
India’s unicorn population will rise to 150 by 2025 from 60 now, predicted
’s investment-banking arm. Many will eventually look to float, he said, translating into a big increase in market capitalization.
“India will see $300 billion to $400 billion of market-cap creation in the internet ecosystem in the next five years,” said Mr. Singhal.
The deals already under way show how India’s financial sector has been swept up in an international boom, even as the country records more than 30,000 new Covid-19 cases a day, among the highest daily counts in the world.
India’s 22 IPOs in the first six months of 2021 brought in $3.7 billion, a record half-year haul, according to Prime Database Group, a research firm in New Delhi. Shares in some recently listed companies are trading at twice their IPO price.
At the same time, Indian stock indexes have soared as investors bet on big listed companies. The S&P BSE Sensex has hit a series of record highs, most recently on July 15, and international investors have poured about $7.7 billion into Indian shares this year, official data shows.
a 23-year-old from the northern city of Pathankot, started dabbling in the market last year while waiting for the chance to study abroad.
Relying on advice from videos on YouTube and Telegram, Mr. Singh said, he has lost money at times—but still finds trading stocks more appealing than getting a job in his hometown, where he said private-sector work pays barely 10,000 rupees a month, equivalent to about $134.
“If you have knowledge of stocks,” he said, “then in three to four months you can earn hundreds of thousands of rupees, sitting at home.”
to test a new story line. Even a lucky turn in videogames won’t free the streaming giant from the need to keep playing Hollywood’s game, though.
Netflix used its second-quarter report Tuesday afternoon to confirm previously reported plans to enter the videogame business. No timing was given, though the company said the offerings would be included in its current subscription plans at no additional cost. The company isn’t backing away from its work on movies and TV shows, but said in its letter to shareholders “since we are nearly a decade into our push into original programming, we think the time is right to learn more about how our members value games.”
That news comes as Netflix remains mired in somewhat of a post-pandemic slump. It added 1.5 million net new paying subscribers in the second quarter, which was a bit better than it had forecast but still its lowest level of growth in nearly a decade. It also projected 3.5 million net adds for the third quarter—about 29% less than what Wall Street was hoping for. That would bring the total number of new subscribers to about nine million for the first nine months of 2021. Netflix added more than 28 million paying subscribers in the same period last year.
A foray into games might make sense for a company with an intimate knowledge of the viewing habits of a user base that now numbers over 209 million. It is also a tough business to crack—even the mobile gaming market that Netflix says it expects to target initially. There are many participants, but most of the money is still made by long-established properties. Games like “Candy Crush” and “Clash of Clans” remain in the top-five grossing charts even after nearly a decade on the market.
Netflix will need to keep battling it out for video streaming eyeballs. The company expects its pace of new releases to pick up in the second half of this year; analysts from Wedbush count 42 original shows and movies expected for the third quarter alone. But the company still has its own track record to compete with: Last fall included popular shows such as “The Queen’s Gambit,” “The Crown” and “Bridgerton.” Netflix shares are down nearly 2% this year, lagging behind many internet and entertainment peers. Streaming investors hyper-focused on subscriber growth aren’t playing games.
While the recent change is good news for the company, the market’s stark reaction reflects the continued belief that Trade Desk is highly vulnerable to the whims of its massive rival. The ad-tech company, which helps other companies buy ads across the internet, has built a formidable business in its own right, with close to $900 million in trailing 12-month revenue and still growing at a strong double-digit rate. The vast majority of that business takes place on platforms such as connected televisions that lie outside of the search ecosystem that Google dominates. But the digital advertising business is a very big pond; eMarketer estimates the global market grew nearly 13% to reach about $378 billion in 2020. And Google is by far the biggest fish in that pond, with advertising revenue reported by parent company
That lopsided relationship means the search giant’s actions cause major ripples. Cookies—bits of code that follow users around the internet—have historically been a major tool for online advertisers to target their spending. But their poor image with privacy advocates also has made them unfashionable.
began blocking cookies with its Safari web browser in 2017, and Google has long teased that it will do the same with its Chrome browser. Those two together account for about 83% of the world’s browser market share, according to Statcounter.
Trade Desk has thus been working to build up an alternative solution. The company’s effort—an open-sourced initiative called Unified ID 2.0—uses email and artificial intelligence to help advertisers with their targeting. Analysts at ISI Evercore set a buy rating on Trade Desk in April—after Google announced its original cookie phaseout plan—citing the company’s strong position relative to peers “because brands trust them with their first-party data.” The Unified ID 2.0 program also has drawn the support of major advertisers such as Walmart, which sits on “one of the most robust sets of consumer retail data in the world,” ISI noted.
Google’s latest move to delay the implementation of its cookie plan gives Trade Desk “more time to refine their offering, attract more partners and increase adoption” of its alternative solution, Truist analyst
wrote on Thursday. Success of its cookie alternatives could also help the company better convince investors that it can survive Google’s scramble to get on the right side of the privacy debate. But the concentrated nature of the online advertising business still means that when Google makes a splash, everyone else gets wet.
and romance have long been a match made in heaven, but now the streaming giant is taking things to another level.
Perhaps emboldened by the success of recent shows like “The Circle” and “Love Is Blind,” Netflix is now doubling down on dystopian reality dating. According to the trailer, released this week, the new concept will feature “real life singles,” sporting “elaborate makeup and prosthetics” and putting blind date chemistry to the test.
As if dating weren’t already hard enough, contestants on “Sexy Beasts” are expected to find love while looking like a panda or a mouse. The trailer features a suave alien in a bowling alley chatting to his date, an apparent cross between a dolphin and a platypus, stating that “personality, for me, is everything.” Others—especially a beaver who candidly describes his favorite physical feature—are at least honest.
If nothing else, viewers will be in it for catfights.
It is a far cry from last year, when the so-called FAANG stocks took a commanding role in a market driven by the coronavirus pandemic.
This year, as the economy strengthens and vaccinations diminish the pandemic in the U.S., that synchronized march has broken down. Investors have broadened their sights beyond the familiar names whose technology businesses thrived as many Americans switched to working, shopping and socializing at home. With a re-energized economy creating opportunity across industries, money managers have options, as well as renewed scrutiny for stocks whose lofty valuations and widespread popularity could limit further upside.
While Alphabet Class A and Facebook shares are up 37% and 21%, respectively, other members of the group have weighed on the market. Amazon shares are up 7.1% in 2021, lagging behind the 11% rise in the benchmark S&P 500. Apple and Netflix have fared even worse, down 1.7% and 7.4% for the year.
Among the hundreds of S&P 500 stocks outpacing Apple—the U.S. benchmark’s largest company by market value—are many that were hit hard by the pandemic. Cruise company
With a healthier economy improving prospects for many stocks, investors have less reason to snap up ones that look expensive. That is particularly the case as a spurt of inflation focuses investors on the question of when the Federal Reserve will begin lifting interest rates from current, rock-bottom levels.
Fed officials last Wednesday indicated they anticipate raising rates by late 2023, sooner than previously expected. When rates rise, commonly used models show the far-off cash flows factored into many technology stock’s price tags are less valuable.
In recent months, investors haven’t been willing to pay as much for the profits of some of the megacap tech names with the richest valuations. Analyst estimates for Amazon’s per-share profit over the ensuing 12 months rose more than 40% from the end of December through last week, according to FactSet. But since Amazon’s share price rose only 7.1%, the stock’s forward price/earnings multiple contracted from nearly 73 times to about 55 times.
In the case of Netflix, expectations for forward earnings have risen while its share price has fallen. That has compressed the stock’s price/earnings ratio from almost 60 at the end of 2020 to about 43 last week.
Apple has seen its valuation fall since the start of the year, as projected earnings increased while its share price is nearly unchanged. It traded last week at about 25 times expected earnings—down from more than 32 times on Dec. 31.
After owning Apple shares for years,
chief investment officer of wealth-management firm The Bahnsen Group, said he sold them late last year because he thought they were too rich.
For much of 2020, a badly constricted economy pushed investors toward stocks—like the FAANG names—whose businesses were less affected and whose future growth became even more alluring with the drop in interest rates. The Russell 1000 Growth Index advanced 37% for the year, while the Russell 1000 Value Index eked out a 0.1% gain—the largest annual performance gap between the two style benchmarks in FactSet data going back to 1979.
Big tech stocks were among the leaders of that rally. Apple shares climbed 81% in 2020—last August becoming the first U.S. public company to surpass $2 trillion in market value—while Amazon rose 76% and Netflix gained 67%. Facebook added 33% for the year, and Alphabet 31%.
“Philosophically if you’re buying those very large-cap stocks—let’s say a trillion dollars and above—you’re doing so not because you think you’ve found some undiscovered gem,” said
who manages the Firsthand Technology Opportunities Fund. “You’re doing it more as an expression of a tech thesis, that people are going to be rotating to tech.”
That rotation began to unwind in November with news that a Covid-19 vaccine was emerging. Value stocks, which trade at low multiples of book value and tend to be more sensitive to the health of the economy, began a monthslong rally. In March, value stocks were beating growth stocks by the widest margin in two decades, although the gains have eroded recently.
Among big tech stocks, Alphabet and Facebook have served as a kind of reopening play, reporting a surge in advertising. Facebook’s profit in its latest quarter nearly doubled from a year earlier, while Alphabet’s earnings more than doubled.
“They’ve had this huge resurgence in online advertising and that’s really been driving the stocks,” said
senior portfolio manager at Synovus Trust Co. “All these businesses are reopening, coming back on, the economy’s accelerating. Where do they go to promote themselves? A lot of them go to Facebook.”
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Netflix, by contrast, disappointed investors when it reported that its subscriber growth had slowed as the economy reopened. The streaming giant got a boost from the pandemic as many consumers were forced or chose to stay home, and it ended 2020 with more than 200 million subscribers.
Those fundamentals matter more now for investors, who seem less inclined to view the market in the same broad terms as they did last year.
“These just are different companies that for a long time were highly correlated because they were popular, they were performing well,” Mr. Bahnsen said. “There really was never an investment logic to a streaming company that was first to market trading in tandem with a social media company.”
: Since going public in September, the provider of cloud-based data analytics tools has managed an epic valuation. Even with a 13% drop since the start of the year, Snowflake trades at around 57 times forward sales—the richest multiple in the richly valued cloud sector. At the stock’s peak in December, Snowflake commanded a market value of just over $110 billion. That was on par with
an admittedly struggling tech giant still generating more than 100 times Snowflake’s annual revenue.
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Investors therefore clearly expect that Snowflake can scale up significantly in the coming years. And years it will take, even with the triple-digit growth the company has been managing so far. Hence, Snowflake used its first analyst meeting on Thursday to give a very long-term view. The company projects it will hit $10 billion in product revenue in its 2029 fiscal year. That will require averaging a little over 40% growth annually over the next eight fiscal years, which
of Canaccord says would make Snowflake “the fastest ever software company to reach that level of scale.”
It also was already baked into the numbers. The few analysts willing to project that far had already reached a consensus of $10.9 billion in product revenue for fiscal 2029, according to Visible Alpha. The company’s projection of reaching operating margins of only about 10% on an adjusted basis by that time also was deemed a bit of a letdown—though some analysts believe the company was likely being overly conservative. Snowflake’s share price still slipped more than 3% Friday, though it gained back some of that ground Monday morning.
Few disagree that Snowflake has a large opportunity ahead. The company’s data-warehousing software is in hot demand by enterprises looking to speed up their business analytics abilities. And the fact that it works across all the major cloud platforms helps in a world where more companies are electing not to go all in on just one.
Still, Snowflake has less visibility into its future results than many other cloud software providers. The company generates revenue as customers use its service, as opposed to subscriptions that are collected up front. But no analyst seems to think Snowflake will have trouble hitting its long-term goal.
Azure were both generating 70% growth rates when at the $10 billion a year mark. If Snowflake manages that, those paying up for the shares now will be getting a bargain. They just need patience to find out.
said in a Facebook post that he would be leaving the company later this year.
These exits have led some to worry about the impact on Facebook’s advertiser relationships. Last year, for example, Ms. Everson played a big role keeping major advertisers on Facebook’s platform, despite civil rights-related boycotts of the social network, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Such relationships may be irreplaceable at a smaller company, but are perhaps less important to a platform as large as Facebook. Its legacy Blue app alone is used by roughly 36% of the world’s population monthly, while its broader family of apps are used by nearly 44%. That number of eyes has no equal.
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The departures come at a particularly delicate time, though. Apple’s recent iOS operating system changes require developers to request users’ permission to track their online activity, a key way Facebook and other ad-based platforms were able to collect information about users in order to target them with ads. Facebook has been outspoken about its concern that tracking changes will disproportionately affect small businesses. That makes sense: As of the third quarter of last year, Facebook said it had over 10 million active advertisers on its platform, most of which were small businesses. Chief Executive
has also said that as a business, he believes Facebook can manage through the changes and that it may emerge even stronger if it becomes harder for small businesses to navigate data targeting without Facebook’s help.
Facebook doesn’t regularly disclose the percentage of revenue that comes from small businesses, but investors got a hint of the proportion last year, when boycotts from large, well-known brands like
had little effect on its top-line performance. Because Facebook has historically offered small businesses a virtually unmatched return on their investment, these companies have little choice but to advertise on its platforms.
But the recent iOS changes could threaten some of that loyalty. Caitlin Tormey Mongiardini, chief commercial officer of cashmere clothing company NAADAM, said her company recently reallocated some of its marketing budget to focus on brand partnerships and other strategic marketing areas outside Facebook after hearing that the iOS update had been negatively affecting its peers. In some cases, she said fellow direct-to-consumer brands have seen their return on investment on Facebook cut in half.
Will Matalene, paid platform expert and digital marketing consultant, points out that in addition to diminished ad targeting abilities, Facebook is also now getting less data from Apple, making it more difficult for the platform to demonstrate returns to clients.
Ultimately, brands that have historically allocated large, set portions of their budgets to Facebook are becoming more nimble in terms of advertising channels, he said. While he doesn’t expect any brand can afford to pull all their money out from Facebook’s reach, he does see brands diversifying away from the company until it can come up with new ways to bolster its value proposition amid heightened focus on user privacy.
Facebook has said it expects iOS changes to begin to have an impact on its business in the current quarter. It is forecasting second-quarter year over year revenue growth to remain stable or modestly accelerate from the monster 48% growth it put up in the first quarter, but for growth rates to “significantly decelerate” sequentially in the third and fourth quarters.
Despite some advertisers reporting lower returns on their investments, pricing on Facebook’s ads has been rising. The company said on its first-quarter conference call that its average price per ad in the first quarter increased 30% year-on-year, even as impression growth has eased lately as last year’s homebound consumers are stepping back out. It expects ad revenue growth to be primarily driven by price for the remainder of the year.
To continue justifying rising prices in the face of a potentially lowered value proposition, Facebook will likely need a new game plan. The departure of two key ad executives only underscores that big changes could be afoot.
To Facebook’s advertisers and investors, the only faces that really matter are Benjamin Franklin’s rolling in.
Didi Chuxing Technology Co., the Chinese ride-hailing behemoth, made its IPO papers public on Thursday, setting the company up to raise billions and begin trading publicly in the U.S. in July.
Didi, which filed under its formal name of Xiaoju Kuaizhi Inc., could fetch a valuation upward of $70 billion, people familiar with the matter said, a number that could stretch even higher amid investors’ ravenous appetite for newly public, high-growth companies.
The company is expected to raise roughly 8% to 10% of the valuation amount in the offering, people familiar with the matter said, money the company says it will use to invest in technology, grow its business outside of China and introduce new products.