Data Sheet—Wednesday, February 1, 2017
In a world gone topsy-turvy, finally some news as reassuringly warm and snuggly as a security blanket: Apple reported a fine quarter, its stock raced upward in after-hours trading, and investors are excited about the company’s future.
Let’s do some numbers:
* Apple earned almost $18 billion in its first fiscal quarter for 2017, which ended Dec. 31. That’s down a smidgen from the year-earlier period as margins tightened. To put that figure in perspective, of the top 10 corporations in the 2015 Fortune 500, only Berkshire Hathaway had annual profits greater than Apple’s just-reported quarter.
* The company sold 78 million iPhones, up 5% from the year before and a strong showing for the iPhone 7 in its first full quarter of sales.
* Apple has $246 billion in cash, 94% of which sits outside the U.S.
Now let’s do some non-numbers:
* Fortune’s Aaron Pressman discusses why Apple CEO Tim Cook might be seriously considering a gonzo acquisition, Apple’s first. If so, it might be a media company, and Apple is said to have poked around Netflix and Time Warner in the past. For what it’s worth, Cook’s language isn’t new. He always has suggested nothing is off the table. More, valuations are relatively high, and it’s tough to imagine Cook using Apple’s cash to buy someone’s else’s pricey stock. But then the world has gone topsy-turvy.
* Apple’s supply chain isn’t operating at peak efficiency, having botched demand for its new AirPods, the Apple Watch, and the super-sized iPhone 7 Plus. Apple goofing up in operations is a lot like Tiger Woods shanking his tee shots. Oh wait …
* Apple is serious about services like iTunes and iCloud, a business that used to play helpmeet for its device sales. The company has been saying this is a big deal for several quarters. Now it is.
As for what’s next, Apple watchers want to hyperventilate over an iPhone 8, they’d like to see Apple produce Netflix- and Amazon-like original movies and TV shows, and they pine for an iCar.
For now, they’ll settle for gaudy profits.
BITS AND BYTES
Facebook may be working on an app for set-top boxes. The social network is looking for more ways to keep growing its revenue from video and video advertising, reports The Wall Street Journal. The U.S. market for TV advertising is worth more than $70 billion annually. You can expect to hear more about Facebook's latest quarter, including fresh video engagement numbers, after the market closes today. (Wall Street Journal, Reuters, MarketWatch)
India's tech consulting giants brace themselves. The Trump administration is preparing an executive order that will change how H1-B visa are issued, requiring companies to try to hire American talent first, reports Bloomberg. Meanwhile, Congress is considering legislation that would raise the annual minimum wage requirements from $60,000 to more than $100,000. Both developments aren't good for companies like Tata Consultancy Services, Infosys, and Wipro. (Bloomberg, Ars Technica, Reuters)
Amazon is getting a new Kentucky home. The e-commerce giant plans to invest $1.5 billion in a new air cargo hub that will be sited on 900 acres of property located not far from logistics company UPS's own massive facility there. Amazon is handling more of its own logistics in order to deliver packages faster. (Reuters)
Things are looking up for Advanced Micro Devices. The chip maker posted a smaller-than-expected loss for its fourth quarter. It benefited from strong demand for its graphic chips used in gaming consoles as well as a stabilizing PC market. (Reuters)
More people are using ad-blocking software. Approximately 11% of all Internet users have embraced technology to dodge digital advertising, according to a new report. That's a 30% increase from the previous year. (Wall Street Journal)
North American companies are buying lots of robots. They ordered more than 35,000 robots in 2016, a 10% increase over the previous year—that translates into an investment of almost $1.9 billion. The majority of orders were placed by automakers, according to the trade organization releasing this data. (Fortune)
Apple inches past Samsung in smartphone sales (for now). From August—just before the Galaxy Note 7 was recalled due to its potentially exploding battery—through the end of December, Apple claimed about 19% of the category compared with the 10% it held during previously. Samsung's share slipped from 20% to 15%. (Fortune)
Slack and Google are looking for more business from big businesses. Both software companies are looking beyond their strongholds within smaller organizations and departmental workgroups with product updates that specifically cater to the Fortune 500 set—and that can help them compete more effectively against Microsoft.
Slack's latest addition is Enterprise Grid, which includes more access management and security features than its original messaging platform. Meanwhile, Google is tightening up security for G Suite, its Microsoft Office rival, which includes cloud services for word processing, spreadsheets, and presentations. Fortune's Barb Darrow reports on both strategic shifts here (Slack) and here (Google).
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Donald Trump's Credit for New Jobs at Sprint Questioned Again, by Aaron Pressman
Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg Speaks Out Against Trump's Immigration Ban, by Jonathan Vanian
Apple's Earnings Are No Longer as Influential as They Used to Be, By Jeff Bukhari
Google Marches Again, by Ellen McGirt
Alphabet's Eric Schmidt Says Trump Administration Will Do 'Evil Things', by Don Reisinger
ONE MORE THING
Lego wants to see what kids are building with its bricks. The company has created an Instagram-like social network where it's encouraging children (and hopefully their parents) to share photos of their creations. Members will have their names anonymized to protect their identities. (Fortune)