⚔️ Apple vs. Facebook

Facebook goes to Washington | Apple goes to China |

Hi Reader, here's what you need to know for April 29th in 3:03 minutes.

☕️ Finimized over a chemex at The Green Bean in Yerevan, Armenia (17°C/63°F ☀️)

Today's big stories

  1. Apple's earnings beat expectations late on Wednesday, and its popularity in China played a big role
  2. The US president’s mooted tax hike on the 1% could cause problems for one of your favorite investment strategies – Read Now
  3. Facebook posted better-than-expected quarterly earnings late on Wednesday, as its ad business continued to fire on all cylinders



What’s Going On Here?

Ugh, Apple’s going to be talking about how it “found itself” in China for years: the tech giant reported better-than-expected quarterly earnings late on Wednesday, and its stock initially jumped 4%.

What Does This Mean?

There’s been huge demand for iPhones all over the world lately, with revenue coming in 16% higher than analysts predicted. Apple’s 5G-enabled models were particularly popular in China, whose transition to 5G networks – and, presumably, its population’s transformation into lizard people – is fully underway. In fact, that spike in demand might’ve been why Apple’s overall revenue beat expectations by 16%. And while the company opted not to offer an earnings forecast for this quarter, it did raise its dividend and promise more share price-boosting buybacks to come.

Why Should I Care?

Zooming in: The future is subscriptions.
A major focus for Apple’s investors is its subscription services: think Apple TV, Apple Music, and the App Store. The company’s increasingly been pivoting toward the segment, which comes with steadier sales and much higher profit margins than hardware. So it’s no wonder investors were upbeat about Apple's results: its services revenue grew by a better-than-expected 27% compared to the same time last year, and the company’s profit was almost 40% higher than investors had forecast.

The bigger picture: The present is still iPhones.
In the grand scheme of things, demand for newer, more expensive iPhones is actually sinking. And since iPhone sales still make up half of Apple’s total revenue, the company’s trying to offset that drop by selling more of its cheaper models. That strategy might’ve got a shot in the arm on Wednesday: the US president introduced a new plan that calls for $800 million in tax cuts and credits, which should give lower-income families more money to spend on life’s little luxuries.

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2. Analyst Take

Why A Tax Hike On The 1% Could Hurt One Of Your Favorite Strategies

What’s Going On Here?

The US president hasn’t been backward in coming forward about his keenness to raise taxes on major corporations and the country’s 1%.

And just last week, a proposed increase in US taxes on capital gains – a.k.a. personal investment profit – spooked markets.

The good news is that the long-term impact on stocks is likely to be muted, even if it does make it through Congress and into law. No guarantees there.

The bad news is that it could hit your portfolio in another way: by disrupting some of last year’s best-performing stocks, as well as a hugely popular strategy that depends on them.

So that’s today’s Insight: why everyone’s so nervous about the mooted tax hike, and whether you should be too.

Read or listen to the Insight here


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Like Conquers All

Like Conquers All

What’s Going On Here?

Facebook and investors can overcome anything, together: the social media empire announced better-than-expected quarterly earnings late on Wednesday, and its stock initially climbed 6%.

What Does This Mean?

There was so much time and so little to do last quarter, and Facebook was more than happy to fill the void: the company saw the number of monthly active users across its social media platforms rose by 10% compared to the year before, bringing the total to 2.9 billion. And given that it makes virtually all its money by selling users’ attention to advertisers, that boost pushed its quarterly earnings above forecasts. It’ll also give the company newfound hope that it can finally move on from last year’s advertising boycott, when a number of high-profile firms – including Coca-Cola and Procter & Gamble – cut their spending on the platform in protest of some of its more… problematic policies.

Why Should I Care?

For markets: Digital ads are a goldmine.
The latest results from Alphabet, Snapchat, and now Facebook prove that the digital advertising market is bigger than ever these days. The pandemic, after all, has driven an unstoppable shift toward online shopping and the ads it relies on. That suits Facebook fine: its platform accounts for a quarter of all digital ad spending in the States, and its ecommerce tools – those that allow businesses to set up online stores directly on Facebook and Instagram – aren’t doing too shabbily either (tweet this).

The bigger picture: There’s no such thing as a sure thing.
Not everything’s quite so simple for the social media giant, mind you. For one thing, new privacy settings from Apple are about to make it harder for Facebook to target ads to iPhone and iPad users, potentially denting one of its most lucrative sources of ad revenue. Oh, and then there’s the little matter of the US government’s ever-growing enthusiasm for breaking up Big Tech altogether…

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💬 Quote of the day

“Trouble is only opportunity in work clothes.”

– Henry J. Kaiser (an American industrialist)
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🎤 That’s what makes energy beautiful

Energy companies seem to have realized they aren’t quite as popular as they once were these days, and they’re trying to do something about it. Hence The Energy Sector’s New Direction: our event dedicated to how oil and gas companies are trying to start a boyband to win over a whole new generation of fans. No, that doesn’t sound right…

🛢 The Energy Sector’s New Direction: 4pm UK time, April 29th
🔪 How To Cut Through The Spin: 6pm UK time, April 29th
👋 Live Q&A With CEO Max Rofagha: 1.30pm UK time, April 30th
📈 The Shift From Growth To Value Stocks: 6pm UK time, May 4th
⚽️ Investing In Professional Sports: 6pm UK time, May 5th
🤒 The Financial Health Check: 4pm UK time, May 6th
☄️ The Future Of Commodities: 6pm UK time, May 12th
🤖 NFTs: A Modern-Day Masterpiece?: 5pm UK time, May 13th
💪 Building A Circular Economy: 5pm UK time, May 25th
🇨🇳 The Surge In China’s Tech Scene: 5pm UK time, June 1st

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