ExxonMobil gushes $56 billion in profits
It’s a record yearly profit for the company which previously stood at $45.2 billion in 2008. That was when oil hit $142 a barrel. The EU pre-empted Exxon’s swag with a $1.3 billion windfall tax in the fourth quarter. Shares finished the week at £112 also an all-time high for the firm. As noted two weeks ago, Putin’s invasion of Ukraine will prompt eye-watering earnings from the energy sector. Exxon’s Chief Financial Officer Kathryn Mikells said ‘strong markets, strong throughput, strong production, and really good cost control’ helped the firm to its record earnings.
Google earnings drop in Q4
Alphabet’s earnings came in at $1.05 per share, revenue came in at $76.05 billion continuing a downtrend trend in quarterly revenue growth since Q2 of 2021. In November 2021, shares reached an all-time high of $148 and have since fallen 29% to $105. The company also warned of a $2.3 billion charge it will sustain in Q1 of 2023 related to the 12,000 employees it fired in January. Further charges related to real estate – specifically its reduced office space, will start at $500 million in Q1 and further real-state charges are likely moving forward. Headcount growth cost it an extra 10% in operating expenses but CEO Sundar Pichai reiterated its focus on AI. With Google’s current legal proceedings in the US, there’s a lot for the executive team to be working on and shareholders to be mindful of.
Apple earnings growth slides
CEO Tim Cook blamed the macroeconomic environment and the lockdowns in China for not producing enough iPhones and iPads to sell for the latest quarterly earnings decline. Apple posted EPS of $1.88, down 10.9% YOY, revenue was down 5.49% YOY. Apple’s quarterly earnings have been declining in growth since the beginning of 2021, albeit from lofty heights (54.1% in Q1). The firm said that production levels of the iPad and iPhone are back to ‘acceptable levels’. The number of Apple active devices increased from 1.8 billion to 2 billion, including first-time buyers of the Apple Watch. Cook mentioned costs are being cut and hiring has slowed but did not see a need to slash headcount like others in the tech space. Despite the negative decline in earnings growth, Apple has faired much better than its tech peers due to prudent management of its hiring process, innovative product expansion (Apple Pay, Card, Music), and bringing new customers on board its product range despite the macro headwinds of the last few years: resilience.
Amazon issues guidance for Q1
Amazon expects YOY growth of revenue of between 4% – 8%, and online store sales declined 2% YOY. Consumers are slowly switching from e-commerce to high-street shopping since the end of the pandemic. CEO Andy Jassy, on top of announcing an 18,000 headcount cull last month, has frozen hiring, halted warehouse build, and is ‘… working really hard to streamline our costs and trying to do so at the same time that we don’t give up on the long-term strategic investments that we believe can meaningfully change broad customer experiences and change Amazon over the long term’. Amazon Web Services – its cloud business – declined in growth for the fourth quarter from 27.5% in the third, to 20%. Amazon earned 3 cents per share and operating income declined YOY due to $2.7 billion of charges, some of which related to severance payments. Shares are trading at $103, down from $183 in November 2021.
Meta shares explode 23% after results
Meta shares rocketed 23% in after-hours trading when the firm announced a $40 billion stock buyback, and beating revenue expectations for the fourth quarter. CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Meta’s “management theme for 2023 is the year of efficiency and we’re focused on becoming a stronger and more nimble organization.” Meta announced 11,000 layoffs last November. There’s also less expenditure expected in the future due to a switch to more cost-effective data centres. The Reality Labs unit responsible for the development of the Metaverse is expected to increase operating losses in 2023 ‘significantly’. Shares are currently trading at $186, down from $378 in September 2021. Without the share buyback, the value of Meta is in decline due to weak advertising demand and Tik Tok dominating ad revenue growth. Meta’s ad revenue declined 4% in the quarter and continues to be ‘impacted by the uncertain and volatile macroeconomic landscape’ according to Meta CFO Susan Li. Ad revenue represented 97% of Meta’s total revenue in the quarter.
Shell’s 115-year profit record
$39.9bn (£32.2bn) in 2022, the highest in its 115-year history. The price of Brent crude oil went to almost $128 a barrel after Putin’s invasion of Ukraine last year. It’s currently trading at $83. Shell said was due to pay $134m in a UK windfall tax for 2022 and more than $500m in 2023. Shell had paid $13bn in taxes globally in 2022 and only derives around 5% of its revenue from the UK.
US raises interest rates by 0.25%
The market expected it and The Fed delivered. A rise of 25 basis points from Jerome Powell and his team this week, the highest since October 2007. Inflation is still at its highest levels since the 1980s. Powell noted that inflation “has eased somewhat but remains elevated… inflation data received over the past three months show a welcome reduction in the monthly pace of increases… while recent developments are encouraging, we will need substantially more evidence to be confident that inflation is on a sustained downward path.”
UK interest rates highest for 14 years
The Bank of England raised interest rates by 0.5% to 4%. The market is expecting rates to peak at 4.5% in the summer before heading back down. The Bank has a 2% inflation target but prices are rising at 10.5%, a 40-year high. The market believes inflation reached its peak in the UK last October at 11.1%. Both the Bank of England and The Fed are in lockstep both with inflation and rate rises, but not on the upcoming recession – the IMF stated this week that the UK will be the only major economy to shrink in 2023, forecasted to be -0.6%.