July 31, 2020 / 2:23 AM / 12 days ago

Big Tech surges as reports impress in coronavirus downturn

(Reuters) - Shares of Apple , Amazon and Facebook surged in extended trading on Thursday, with Alphabet also climbing, as quarterly reports from the Big Tech quartet added fuel to Wall Street’s four-month rally.

With the four companies reporting on the same day for the first time ever, Apple, Amazon and Facebook each jumped 5% or more. Alphabet traded up about 0.5%.

Together, the four account for nearly a fifth of the S&P 500’s stock market value. Index funds tracking the S&P 500 and tech-heavy Nasdaq rose 0.8% and 1.6%, respectively, suggesting traders expect Wall Street to open sharply higher on Friday.

Deemed “stay-at-home” winners as millions of Americans were ordered indoors to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, shares of the largest U.S. technology companies have hit record highs in recent months at a time when the benchmark S&P 500 is up less than 1% on the year and the coronavirus pandemic has thrown the economy into its steepest contraction since the Great Depression.

Thursday’s reports reinforced investors’ expectations that those deep-pocketed companies will emerge from the coronavirus crisis stronger than their smaller competitors.

Apple delivered year-on-year revenue gains across every category and in every geography, as consumers working and learning from home during the COVID-19 pandemic turned to its products and services.

The iPhone maker also announced a four-for-one stock split, as of the start of trading on Aug. 31. Apple’s stock has surged over 300% since its last stock split, in 2014.

Amazon posted the biggest profit in its 26-year history as online sales surged.

With marketers slowing advertising spending due to the economic downturn, Facebook reported an 11% increase in revenue, its slowest growth since its 2012 initial public offer. But it beat analysts’ expectations that revenue would sink 3%, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Also hit by the recession, Google-parent Alphabet’s quarterly sales fell for the first time in its 16 years as a public company, but the decline was less than expected as many advertisers stuck with the most popular online search engine during the pandemic.

Alphabet’s Google and Facebook received particularly sharp jabs on Wednesday from Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. Congress who say they have crippled smaller rivals in the quest for market share, the latest blows in an increasingly threatening regulatory landscape.

FILE PHOTO: The logos of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google are seen in a combination photo from Reuters files. REUTERS//File Photo

Prior to Thursday’s after-hours surge, Amazon had gained 64% year to date, while Apple was up 29% and Facebook and Alphabet had each risen about 14%.

“Even the bears will say that these are fantastic companies and they are not going to stop being fantastic,” said Nicholas Colas, co-founder of DataTrek Research.

“The unifying factor is they have the ability to both grow and control their cost structures through the pandemic. That is always a good place to start from when you have a downturn.”

Additional reporting by Sagarika Jaisinghani and Neha Malara in Bengaluru; Editing by David Gregorio

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