This week was huge for tech company earnings.
The results were mixed, with both Apple and Amazon disappointing compared to expectations.
Facebook, meanwhile, crushed estimates and its stock rocketed to an all-time.
The most interesting part, however, wasn’t just the numbers but what each companies’ executives had to say on their respective earnings calls.
Apple took the opportunity to highlight the weakness in the macroeconomic environment, saying this factor slowed sales of iPhones and other products enough to impact the bottom line.
“Our results are particularly impressive, given the challenging global macroeconomic environment,” said CEO Tim Cook. “We’re seeing extreme conditions unlike anything we’ve experienced before just about everywhere we look.”
Since Apple was the first to report on Tuesday, both Amazon and Facebook’s executive teams fielded questions on the macroeconomic outlook. And the response was a bit different.
“Sure, Mark. Thanks for your questions. No macroeconomic comments. Again, we feel we’re very encouraged by the customer response to our offerings in Q4,” said Amazon’s CFO Brian Olsavsky.
And Facebook’s CFO Dave Wehner had this to say: “We didn’t see anything in Q4 that indicated broad-based macro weakness beyond of course the impact that FX was having.”
Apple is stuck in a vicious cycle abroad
Apple is counting on foreign markets such as China and Brazil for its next big growth cycle while both countries are facing economic slowdowns.
This presents a unique problem.
As Business Insider’s Jay Yarow said this week, as its iPhone sales decline Apple is trying to sell itself as a services business, making revenue off of apps installed on its devices. The problem is to get money from apps, people have to buy iPhones.
And as the global economy slows down and the dollar impacts purchasing power in markets like Brazil, buying an iPhone becomes more expensive in exactly the markets that are supposed to drive sales growth.
It doesn’t look as bad for others
Neither Facebook nor Amazon are as exposed to non-US markets as Apple, but it is interesting that their opinions differed so greatly.
At Amazon, Olsavsky’s brief comments are essentially the only mention of macro-trends, as much of the focus was on the company’s attempts to build out a logistics and delivery network.
Amazon’s international sales increased by about $2 billion in 2015, with $1.3 billion of this increase coming in the fourth quarter. Additionally, Olsavsky said that international Amazon Prime subscriber increased by 51% and the company was “very pleased by the international growth.”
This is, however, a drop in the bucket for the company. About two-thirds of Apple’s revenue, in contrast, comes from outside the US.
The impact of foreign currencies against the dollar was also mentioned by Facebook, saying it dragged on revenue, though they had differing thoughts on the demand in the very markets that are killing Apple.
“We’re also pleased with the growth we’re seeing in emerging markets and countries like China where businesses are advertising on Facebook and Instagram to reach people internationally,” said Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg.
Of course, this is only one quarter’s comments and it remains to be seen whether or not Apple’s decline is the company attempting to cover for a bad quarter or whether it indicates weakening global demand that could be problem for tech companies and the economy at large.
But right now, it looks like Apple’s problem to solve.
Disclosure: Jeff Bezos is an investor in Business Insider through hispersonal investment company Bezos Expeditions.
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