Apple’s latest quarterly earnings were viewed positively on balance. Revenue from the iPhone continued to slow, falling by 17% in the first three months of the year compared with the same quarter in 2018; the device accounts for an ever-smaller share of Apple’s revenues. And overall sales from China, where Apple faces stiff competition, were down by a fifth. But compensating for the bad news the company’s revenues from services—apps, music-streaming and the like—grew by 16%.
By contrast, Alphabet’s earnings were interpreted negatively. Although revenues at Google’s parent company grew by 17%, that was the slowest pace in three years. Booking its latest antitrust fine from the EU caused net income to plunge, to $6.7bn. The company also announced that Eric Schmidt, who was Google’s boss for ten years until 2011, is to step down from the board.
“The future is private”
Stung by accusations of ethical shortcomings, Facebook held a conference to discuss its new “privacy-focused vision”. It also rolled out a programme whereby research academics will gain access to user data. Facebook stressed that privacy was being protected, and that it had consulted privacy experts. If anyone had private doubts about its new-found devotion, it is also testing a “differential privacy” application. All this comes as Facebook negotiates with regulators about beefing up its oversight of privacy, which reportedly may mean it appoints a privacy tsar.
Uber offered an initial price range for its forthcoming IPO of between $44 and $50 a share. That is a bit lower than had been expected, and would value the ride-hailing firm at up to $92bn when it lists (it may alter the price range).
In another highly anticipated stockmarket flotation, Beyond Meat priced its IPO at $25 a share, the top end of its price range. The startup is totemic of the market’s current taste for plant-based food companies.
Occidental appeared to have scuppered Chevron’s deal to take over Anadarko, when the latter said that it now considers Occidental’s offer to be superior. Occidental has valued the transaction at $57bn; its proposal includes a $10bn capital injection from Warren Buffett. Anadarko has huge shale assets in America’s Permian Basin, making it an attractive partner for energy firms.