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Big Tech earnings, Federal Reserve decision: What to know this week

·Reporter
·11 min read
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Traders are gearing up for a busy week of corporate earnings results from the mega-cap technology stocks this week. This will come alongside a slew of economic data reports and a monetary policy decision from the Federal Reserve. 

The biggest names in the S&P 500 — including Apple (AAPL), Microsoft (MSFT), Amazon (AMZN), Facebook (FB) and Alphabet (GOOGL) — are set to report second-quarter results this week. The reports will add to what has already been an exceptional earnings season: So far, 24% of companies in the S&P 500 have reported second-quarter results, and of these, 88% have topped Wall Street's earnings per shares estimates, according to an analysis from FactSet. The blended earnings growth rate for the blue-chip index, which includes both companies' reported growth rates and the estimated rates for the companies have yet to report, stands at 74.2%, which would be the highest since the fourth quarter of 2009. 

Earnings results from technology companies Snap (SNAP) and Twitter (TWTR) last week underscored the strength in the internet advertising market, suggesting a strong backdrop that likely also benefitted bigger ad-driven companies like Facebook and Alphabet. Snap's second-quarter revenue growth came in at 116%, or the biggest jump in four years, and the stock rocketed to a record high following the results. Both Snap and Twitter grew active users more than expected, and their estimates topping second-quarter revenues suggested better monetization of these increased users. 

According to JPMorgan analyst Doug Anmuth, Snap's results especially "will likely raise the bar for other ad names," including Alphabet and Facebook. The companies report results on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively. 

"GOOGL shares are well-owned, but GOOGL remains one of our Top Ideas in 2021 as we believe: 1) reopening will remain a tailwind for Search and YouTube ads, especially as overall spend continues to shift online and travel continues to recover; 2) overall margins will remain meaningfully above pre-pandemic levels ... 3) Cloud growth will remain solid at 40%+ while profit losses continue to improve; and 4) greater capital returns are likely on the heels of the $50 billion incremental buyback authorization last quarter," Anmuth wrote in a note published July 22. 

As for Facebook, "advertising should continue to benefit from reopening and we are encouraged by newer initiatives around Reels and Shops, as well as the creator economy, audio, and AR/VR [augmented reality/virtual reality] a bit further out," Anmuth added. 

An illustration picture taken in London on December 18, 2020 shows the logos of Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft displayed on a mobile phone and a laptop screen. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP) (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)
An illustration picture taken in London on December 18, 2020 shows the logos of Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft displayed on a mobile phone and a laptop screen. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP) (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)

Alphabet has been the best performer of the Big Tech FAANG stocks so far in 2021, with shares rising 52% compared to the S&P 500's 17.5% gain for the year-to-date. As a company that derives meaningful revenue from travel-related advertising revenue, Alphabet has been viewed as a key beneficiary of the broader economic reopening that began to occur in the spring of this year. Other software names, by contrast, have generally been viewed as bigger beneficiaries of a stay-at-home and work-from-home environment. 

Alphabet's second-quarter revenue, excluding traffic acquisition costs (TAC), is expected to grow 46% to $46.1 billion, according to Bloomberg data, which would mark the fastest top-line growth for the company since the fourth quarter of 2012. 

Still, other online advertisers are also poised to get a boost from the reopening environment, with marketers more open to spend as pandemic-related uncertainty eased. Facebook's revenues likely grew 49% over last year to $27.9 billion for the second quarter, accelerating slightly from the 48% rate in the first three months of 2021. That growth would come even as the company continues to contend with some decreased ad-targeting abilities after a recent Apple update that allowed users to opt out of tracking in apps including Facebook on iOS devices.

And Apple, for its part, likely also had a strong fiscal third-quarter, according to Wall Street's estimates. Though consensus analysts expect to see that revenue growth slowed sequentially to 24% from the second quarter's 54%, a boost from Apple's latest iPhone upgrade cycle will likely still be at play, according to Wedbush analyst Dan Ives. 

"While the chip shortage was an overhang for Apple during the quarter, we believe the iPhone and Services strength in the quarter neutralized any short term weakness that the Street was anticipating three months ago," Ives said in a note published July 21. "Taking a step back we believe based on our recent Asia supply chain checks that iPhone 13 demand will be similar/slightly stronger than iPhone 12 out of the gates which speaks to our thesis that this elongated 'supercycle' will continue for Cupertino well into 2022." 

Meanwhile, e-commerce behemoth Amazon is heading into its first-ever earnings report without founder Jeff Bezos at the helm. The stock has underperformed so far in 2021, rising 12.3% for the year-to-date, after jumping by more than 76% in 2020 amid a pandemic-fueled boom in e-commerce demand. 

"We expect strong top-line growth in '21, albeit decelerating versus pandemic-charged '20, led by e-commerce growth of +27% y/y (vs. +42% y/y), including a strong 2Q and solid growth in 3Q-4Q as AMZN comps the pandemic surge," Cowen analyst John Blackledge wrote in a note. 

An early Prime Day sales extravaganza is poised to help boost Amazon's second-quarter top-line growth. The two-day event took place in late June this year, or at the end of the second quarter, compared to July 2019 and October 2020. And on the bottom-line, Amazon's faster-growing, high-margin Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud computing platform likely continued to help boost profitability. 

Federal Reserve decision

The Federal Reserve kicks off its latest two-day meeting on Tuesday, with a monetary policy decision and press conference from Fed Chair Jerome Powell set to take place Wednesday afternoon. 

The Fed's June monetary policy statement and updated Summary of Economic Projections were taken as much less accommodative than many market participants expected, with the central bank raising its median forecasts for U.S. economic growth and core inflation over the next two years. The projections suggested the Fed might be more inclined to adjust policy in light of a fast-recovering economy experiencing rising inflation.

Federal Reserve Board Chair Jerome Powell testifies before Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs hearing to examine the Semiannual Monetary Policy Report to Congress, Thursday, July 15, 2021, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
Federal Reserve Board Chair Jerome Powell testifies before Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs hearing to examine the Semiannual Monetary Policy Report to Congress, Thursday, July 15, 2021, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

The Fed's first monetary policy move would impact the central bank's quantitative easing program, with asset purchases still taking place at a rate of $120 billion per month. Powell's discussions around these purchases have shifted throughout his recent public appearances, suggesting more serious consideration among FOMC members to announce the start of tapering. In April, for instance, Powell said the economy was "a long way from" achieving the Fed's employment and inflation targets that would trigger a pivot to less accommodative monetary policy. But after the Fed's June meeting, Powell said the economy was "still a ways off" from the central bank's goals.

"Next week’s FOMC meeting should be less eventful than June’s hawkishly-perceived meeting. There will be no new interest rate forecasts ‘dots’ so attention will focus on the post-meeting statement and Chair Powell’s press conference," JPMorgan economist Michael Feroli wrote in a note. "We believe the statement’s wording around asset purchases will be unchanged, but we expect that Powell will relate that the Committee discussed tapering again and that the economy is slowly getting closer to passing the 'substantial further progress' test to actually start tapering.

However, in the weeks since the Fed's June meeting, more concerns arose around the Delta variant of the coronavirus, which triggered a sell-off in markets last week and which might increase monetary policymakers' perceptions of the risks still present in the economy. At the same time, however, the risk that fast-rising inflation might need to be curbed with a monetary policy adjustment has also increased, with core consumer prices and producer prices each rising faster-than-expected in June. 

But on net, the Fed is likely to maintain a wait-and-see approach before making any adjustments, according to Feroli.

"Powell’s mid-July Congressional testimony raised the prospect that the FOMC statement would introduce an asymmetric policy bias: standing prepared to adjust policy if the Fed 'saw signs that the path of inflation or longer-term inflation expectations were moving materially and persistently beyond levels consistent with our goal,'" Feroli said. "Since that testimony the rise of the Delta variant has injected some downside growth risks into the outlook, and this should help the doves argue for retaining the current symmetric policy bias." 

Earnings Calendar

  • Monday: Lockheed Martin (LMT) before market open; Tesla (TSLA) after market close

  • Tuesday: Centene (CNC), UPS (UPS), 3M (MMM), SiriusXM Holdings (SIRI), Sherwin-Williams (SHW), General Electric (GE), Stanley Black & Decker (SWK), Polaris (PII), Waste Management Inc (WM), Boston Scientific Corp (BSX), JetBlue (JBLU), Fiserv (FISV), Raytheon Technologies (RTX), Invesco (IVZ), Lamb Weston Holdings (LW) before market open; Apple (AAPL), Starbucks (SBUX), Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), Alphabet (GOOGL), Teladoc Health (TDOC), Visa (V), Microsoft (MSFT), Mondelez International (MDLZ), Juniper Networks (JNPR), The Cheesecake Factory (CAKE) after market close

  • Wednesday: Humana (HUM), CME Group (CME), Pfizer (PFE), McDonald's (MCD), Six Flags Entertainment (SIX), Boeing (BA), Moody's Corp (MCO), General Dynamics Corp (GD), Teledyne Technologies (TDY), Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY) before market open; Facebook (FB), Ford (F), Xilinx (XLNX), PayPal (PYPL), ServiceNow (NOW), Lam Research Corp (LRCX), Align Technology (ALGN) after market close 

  • Thursday: Merck & Co (MRK), Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), T Rowe Price Group (TROW), Comcast Corp (CMCSA), Spirit Airlines (SAVE), Valero Energy (VLO), Hilton Worldwide Holdings (HLT), The Carlyle Group (CG), Mastercard (MA), Molson Coors Beverage Co (TAP), Keurig Dr. Pepper (KDP), Yum! Brands (YUM), PG&E (PCG), Citrix Systems (CTXS), S&P Global Inc (SPGI) before market open; Amazon (AMZN), Overstock.com (OSTK), Albertsons Co (ACI), Altria Group (MO), T-Mobile (TMUS), World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), Twilio (TWLO), Pinterest (PINS), Mohawk Industries (MHK), Upwork (UPWK), Skyworks Solutions (SWKS), United States Steel (X), Gilead Sciences (GILD), 

  • Friday: Caterpillar (CAT), VF Corp (VFC), Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM), Chevron Corp (CVX), Danimer Scientific (DNMR), Procter & Gamble (PG), AbbVie (ABBV), Charter Communications (CHTR) before market open

Economic Calendar

  • Monday: New home sales, month-on-month, June (4.0% expected, -5.9% in May); Dallas Fed Manufacturing Activity Index, July (32.3 expected, 31.1 in June)

  • Tuesday: Durable goods orders, June preliminary (2.0% expected, 2.3% in May); Durable goods orders excluding transportation, June preliminary (0.8% expected, 0.3% in May); Non-defense capital goods orders excluding aircraft, June preliminary (0.8% expected, 0.1% in May); Non-defense capital goods shipments excluding aircraft, June preliminary (0.8% expected, 1.1% in May); FHFA House Price Index, month-on-month, May (1.6% expected, 1.8% in April); S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller 20-City Composite Index, month-on-month, May (1.50% expected, 1.62% in April); S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller 20-City Composite Index, year-on-year, May (16.20% expected, 14.88% in April); Conference Board Consumer Confidence, July (124.0 expected, 127.3 in June); Richmond Federal Reserve Manufacturing Index, July (20 expected, 22 in June)

  • Wednesday: MBA Mortgage Applications, week ended July 23 (-4.0% during prior week); Advance Goods Trade Balance, June (-$88.0 billion expected, -$88.1 billion in May); Wholesale Inventories, month-on-month, June preliminary (1.1% expected, 1.3% in May); FOMC Monetary Policy Decision

  • Thursday: Initial jobless claims, week ended July 24 (380,000 expected, 419,000 during prior week); Continuing claims, week ended July 17 (3.192 million expected, 3.236 million during prior week; GDP annualized, quarter-on-quarter, second quarter (8.5% expected, 6.4% in first quarter); Personal consumption, second quarter (10.5% expected, 11.4% in first quarter); Core personal consumption expenditures, quarter-over-quarter, second quarter (6.0% expected, 2.5% in first quarter); Pending home sales, month-on-month, June (0.5% expected, 8.0% in May)

  • Friday: Personal income, June (-0.4% expected, -2.0% in May); Personal spending, June (0.7% expected, 0.0% in May); PCE deflator, month-on-month, June (0.6% expected, 0.4% in May); PCE deflator, year-on-year, June (4.0% expected, 3.9% in May); PCE core deflator, month-on-month, June (0.6% expected, 0.4% in May); PCE core deflator, year-on-year, June (3.7% expected, 3.4% in May); University of Michigan Sentiment, July final (80.8 expected, 80.8 in prior print) 

Emily McCormick is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter: @emily_mcck

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