Displaying items by tag: regulations
Investors in Facebook, and possibly tech more broadly, need to be worried. New news has broke which says that Facebook has been sharing its data with China. The company has been sharing data with device makers like Huawei, among others. The news comes just at a time when fury over Facebook’s data policies have caused a global uproar among the public. According to the Financial Times, “Facebook shared user data including information on religious and political leanings with the device makers, and personal data collected from users who had asked for it not to be shared with third parties”.
FINSUM: We don’t know if there are legal ramifications for this, but it will certainly only add weight to the current push to subject the tech industry to greater regulation.
The Financial Times has just put out what we think is a very interesting story about the battle going on between President Trump and Amazon. The president has been pushing hard for a regulatory crackdown on Amazon, some say because of Jeff Bezos’ ownership of the Washington Post. But the FT points out that the president needs to tread lightly, as Amazon is a well-liked company and he might not win a popularity campaign against it.
FINSUM: Amazon is apparently the 10th most reputable company in the country. Trump’s approval rating is 43%. Even if Trump is right to try to breakup up some of Amazon’s grip, it seems like a risky campaign.
Over the last few months there were growing fears that the US tech industry, a stock market stalwart, might be poised for a damaging crackdown by regulators. This fear had somewhat subsided in the last few weeks as no new worries had arisen, until now. Treasury Secretary Mnuchin has just now called for an anti-trust review of the US tech industry following a 60 Minutes story on Google’s monopoly power. Mnuchin said the power to do so was not part of his mandate, but that someone in the government needs to be looking at the issue. “These are issues that the Justice Department needs to look at seriously — not for any one company — but obviously as these technology companies have a greater and greater impact on the economy”.
FINSUM: This is a very worryingly development for the tech industry and its investors, but not one we think is unwarranted. We suspect this is going to wound tech stocks, especially if the idea of an anti-trust review gets traction in Washington.
One of the elements that has been weighing on technology companies this spring has been the threat of regulations. To judge that risk, Barron’s interviewed a number of Wall Street Analysts to get their views. Overall, the consensus was that future regulatory risk for fangs was muted. One managing director for Canacord Genuity commented that, “Facebook management addressed important data and privacy issues head-on, outlining new disclosure standards for political ads and hiring aggressively against privacy initiatives.…For the time being, the worst is very likely behind Facebook stock.”
FINSUM: We tend to agree here. We do not see the government taking major action, and the worst seems to be behind tech companies, for now.
For all the worries about tech companies and the threat of regulations, one of the best supporting points for the stocks was the strength of their underlying businesses. Despite suffering some losses in share price over the last couple of months, Facebook showed yesterday why the FANGS still look like a good buy. Net income in the first quarter was up 63% versus last year to $5 bn. Earnings per share was up 25% versus estimates. Revenue also jumped 49% versus last year.
FINSUM: Despite all the controversies, Facebook’s advertising business continues to rake in cash by the truckload.