Big week for Big Tech as earnings, hearings loom

Big week for Big Tech as earnings, hearings loom
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Updated 25 October 2020

Big week for Big Tech as earnings, hearings loom

Big week for Big Tech as earnings, hearings loom
  • The four giants drawing the most scrutiny — Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google — have been wildly successful in recent years

SAN FRANCISCO: Big Tech is bracing for a tumultuous week marked by quarterly results likely to show resilience despite the pandemic, and fresh attacks from lawmakers ahead of the Nov. 3 election.

With backlash against Silicon Valley intensifying, the companies will seek to reassure investors while at the same time fend off regulators and activists who claim these firms have become too dominant and powerful.

Earnings reports are due this week from Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and Google-parent Alphabet, whose combined value has grown to more than $7 trillion.

They have also woven themselves into the very fabric of modern life, from how people share views and get news to shopping, working, and playing.

Robust quarterly earnings results expected from Big Tech will “highlight the outsized strength these tech behemoths are seeing” but “ultimately add fuel to the fire in the Beltway around breakup momentum,” Wedbush analyst Dan Ives said in a note to investors.

The results come amid heightened scrutiny in Washington of tech platforms and follow a landmark antitrust suit filed against Google, which could potentially lead to the breakup of the internet giant, illustrative of the “techlash” in political circles.

Meanwhile, Senate Republicans have voted to subpoena Jack Dorsey and Mark Zuckerberg, the chief executives of Twitter and Facebook respectively, as part of a stepped-up assault on social media’s handling of online political content, notably the downranking of a New York Post article purported to show embarrassing information about Democrat Joe Biden.

CEOs of Twitter, Facebook and Google are already slated to testify at a separate Senate panel on Wednesday examining the so-called Section 230 law, which offers liability protection for content posted by others on their platforms.

The four giants drawing the most scrutiny — Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google — have been wildly successful in recent years and have weathered the economic impact of the pandemic by offering needed goods and services.

Google and Facebook dominate the lucrative online ad market, while Amazon is an e-commerce king.

Apple has come under fire for its tight grip on the App Store, just as it has made a priority of making money from selling digital content and services to the multitude of iPhone users.

The firms have stepped up lobbying, spending tens of millions this year, and made efforts to show their social contributions as part of their campaign to fend off regulation.

“For the most part, tech companies know how to do this dance,” said analyst Rob Enderle of Enderle Group.

“They don’t spend a lot of time bragging about how well they have done any more.”

Ed Yardeni of Yardeni Research said the outlook for Big Tech may not be as rosy as it appears.

“For one, regulators at home and abroad are gunning to rein in some of the largest US technology names,” Yardeni said in a research note.

Of interest to the market short-term will likely be whether backlash about what kind of content is left up and what is taken down by online titans causes advertisers to cut spending on the platforms.

Economic and social disruption from the pandemic also looms over tech firms, which benefitted early in the pandemic as people turned to the internet to work, learn, shop and socialize from home.

“Performance will be best for those providing solutions for people working at home,” analyst Enderle said.

Amazon, Google and Microsoft each have cloud computing divisions that have been increasingly powering revenue as demand climbs for software, services and storage provided as services from massive datacenters.

Amazon has seen booming sales on its platform during the pandemic, and viewing surge at its Prime streaming television service.

Enderle expressed concern that with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases and a lack of new stimulus money in the US, tech companies could reveal in forecasts that they are bracing for poorer performance in the current quarter.


Saudi Arabia’s Amkest Group signs deal with US green energy firm

Amr Khashoggi, Chairman of Amkest Group and Scott Poulter, Chief Executive of Pacific Green Technologies
Updated 05 December 2020

Saudi Arabia’s Amkest Group signs deal with US green energy firm

Saudi Arabia’s Amkest Group signs deal with US green energy firm
  • Its expansion into Saudi Arabia through this joint venture is no surprise since the Kingdom is aiming for 30 percent of its energy to come from renewable sources by 2030

RIYADH: US-based Pacific Green Technologies Inc. (PGTK) has signed a joint venture agreement with Amr Khashoggi Trading Co. Ltd. (Amkest Group) to incorporate a company in Saudi Arabia for the sale of Pacific Green environmental technologies.
Amkest Group, founded in 1983, has a history of success in the Kingdom. Its diverse business portfolio includes construction material production and supply, property development and consulting services.
Commenting on the partnership, Scott Poulter, PGTK’s CEO, said: “Saudi Arabia under its Vision 2030 strategic framework, which calls for 9.5 GW of the Kingdom’s energy to be supplied through renewables by 2030, is set to undergo rapid growth.”
Poulter added: “Pacific Green’s technologies, particularly in the solar power, desalination and battery energy storage system sectors, provide the perfect solution to the Kingdom’s growing demand, and we are excited to leverage Amkest Group’s hard-earned relationships to contribute toward the goals of Vision 2030.”
Amr Khashoggi, chairman of Amkest Group, said: “We believe the combination of our experience and knowledge of the Saudi market, coupled with Pacific Green’s portfolio of technologies, provides the foundation for an incredible partnership and the opportunity to offer multiple complementary technologies.”
Pacific Green is focused on addressing the world’s need for cleaner and more sustainable energy. Its expansion into Saudi Arabia through this joint venture is no surprise since the Kingdom is aiming for 30 percent of its energy to come from renewable sources by 2030.
The deal comes on the back of an expectation that Saudi Arabia will attract more than $20 billion in investments in renewables over the next decade. This forecast was made by the CEO of Saudi National Grid in October, according to a report by S&P Global.