Big tech crushes earnings

Key Points
  • Amazon, Alphabet, Microsoft, and Intel all beat expectations and saw their stocks shoot up after hours.
  • The four companies have a combined market cap around $2 trillion.
The biggest companies just reported earnings and it looks like tech nirvana
The biggest companies just reported earnings and it looks like tech nirvana

All the recent criticism of big tech in Washington D.C. and the popular media doesn't seem to be hurting the companies' financial results.

Four tech giants reported earnings after the bell on Thursday, and all of them beat expectations and saw their stocks shoot up.

A quick summary:

Amazon: EPS of 52 cents came in way ahead of expectations of 3 cents, and investors gave the company a pass on its razor-thin 0.8 percent profit margin, the lowest it's shown since September 2014. Total revenue was $43.8 billion, and Amazon Web Services, the company's pioneering cloud business, passed $4 billion in quarterly revenue and operating income of $1.17 billion. The stock soared more than 7 percent after hours.

Alphabet: EPS of $9.57 topped estimates of $8.33, sending the stock up around 3 percent after hours. Revenue was boosted by a surge in clicks on Google ads around the world, particularly in Asia. For all the company's talk about its new businesses like Pixel phones, and long-term investments (a.k.a. "Other Bets") like self-driving cars, nearly all of its revenue still comes from advertising -- $24.1 billion out of its total $27.8 billion, or 87 percent. In a call with CNBC, Alphabet CFO Ruth Porat reiterated the company's theme of "products with AI [artificial intelligence] at their core," but the main function of that AI today seems to be optimizing ad revenue.

Microsoft: EPS of 84 cents (excluding certain items) beat estimates of 72 cents, and the company's various cloud businesses topped a $20 billion annualized run rate for the first time -- they're on track to book $20.4 billion this year even with no further growth. Digging into the company's report a little, most of its organic growth came from selling Office products (including the cloud-based Office 365) and server products and related cloud services (including Azure, its competitor to Amazon Web Services, which grew 90 percent in revenue from last year). The company was the first old-guard enterprise software company to commit to the cloud, and investors rewarded that vision by sending the stock up 4 percent after hours.

Intel: EPS of $1.01 beat expectations of 80 cents, and the main surprise was that revenue in its client computing group -- that is, mostly chips in PCs -- was flat instead of down. The stock was up about 1.5 percent.

Overall, these four companies have a combined market cap of close to $2 trillion.