Despite a rocky start to 2018, the large majority of U.S. tech giants proved in their most recent quarterly earnings reports that their days of dominance are far from over. A handful of beat and raise quarters from companies such as e-commerce and cloud computing giant Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN), smartphone maker Apple Inc. (AAPL) and legacy information technology company Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) have sent high-flying tech stocks to new highs.
The Q1 reports demonstrated the power of Big Tech to drive user growth and launch attractive new products, while also showing the pricing power that these leading corporations have generated at the helm of their industries, as outlined in a report by The Street.
Apple's Software/Services Ecosystem Drives Hardware Upgrades
In Q1, Cupertino, California-based Apple appeased the Street's worries over declining demand for its latest and greatest iPhone X, which carries a starting price of $999. The iPhone maker's unit volumes rose just 3% in the three months ended March, yet total iPhone revenue jumped 14%, thanks to a $73 increase in total iPhone average selling price (ASP) over the year-ago period to reach $728 in the first quarter. The company's ability to leverage its hardware and software/services ecosystem has been applauded on the Street as a means to get customers to gradually pay more to upgrade their services as the company doubles down on its non-core businesses with high growth platforms such as Apple Music and the App Store. (See also: Gates, Buffett Double Down on Praise for Apple.)
Microsoft Gains Revenue from Costlier Monthly Plans
Old-guard tech titan Microsoft, amid a transition away from traditional PC businesses to new growth segments such as its Azure hybrid cloud platform and work productivity tools, benefited from a 14% year-over-year (YOY) rise in Office commercial products and services in Q1, while Office consumer revenue jumped 12%. The Street noted that the revenue increase can be attributed to Microsoft's ability to sell a higher mix of costlier enterprise Office 365 plans.
Tech Giants Gain on Digital Ad, Streaming Trends
While Seattle-based retail giant Amazon is known for the thousands of goods sold on its global platform, its pricing power has more to do with the services underpinning its well-known platform, which has offered extremely cost-competitive prices in a disrupted retail space. Amazon has recently lifted prices for its monthly and annual Prime subscription. It's leadership should give it the same pricing leverage in other businesses such as its $30 billion seller services, comprised of fulfillment services, commissions and other segments, in addition to its high flying ad-businesses.
Facebook Inc. (FB), which has been under heightened scrutiny for its data-driven ad business in light of high-profile data scandals, showed that its bread-and-butter business isn't suffering from the negative media. While ad impressions grew 8% in Q1, average price per ad grew 43% over the same period.
Netflix Inc. (NFLX), up 69.1% year-to-date (YTD) and 107.6% over 12 months, continued to skyrocket to new highs and post subscriber additions above consensus estimates despite a 12% rise in U.S. ASPs in Q1 and 13% for international plans. (See also: How Hulu Stacks Up Against Netflix, Amazon.)