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Tech earnings boom due to cloud. How to play it

Data center
Baran Ozdemir | Vetta | Getty Images

Companies with large cloud computing units surged on better-than-expected earnings as the shift to that storage platform accelerates.

Amazon shares traded up 6 percent, Microsoft jumped 10 percent, and Alphabet gained 6 percent Friday.

"I think (the cloud) just reflects a secular shift. Every business in the world is going to run on (the) cloud eventually, so we view it as an amazing opportunity," Google CEO Sundar Pichai said on Alphabet's earnings call Thursday, according to a FactSet transcript.

Amazon Web Services (AWS), the Internet retailer's cloud computing platform, is the biggest example of the trend's amazing growth.

AWS sales rose in Amazon's third quarter by 78 percent from the previous year, to $2.1 billion. More impressive is AWS' accelerating operating profit margins at 25 percent of sales versus 21.4 percent a quarter ago and only 8.4 percent last year.

AWS is now 52 percent of Amazon's operating profit, even though it constitutes only 8 percent of Amazon's overall sales.

Amazon said AWS is growing because it saves their corporate and start-up clients' money.

"They like the speed and agility Amazon Web Services offers them," Amazon's CFO Brian Olsavsky said on Amazon's earnings call Thursday, according to a FactSet transcript.. "They like the new features that we launched, many of which also enable them to lower their cost of infrastructure. Amazon Aurora (is) one-tenth the price of other high-end commercial databases."

Here is how investors can take advantage of the cloud trend.

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