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More Big Companies Beat Projections, But Wall Street Appears To Still Struggle

Companies keep churning out impressive earnings, but the market doesn’t seem to give them much credit. Instead, fear and caution remain the watchwords as the Dow Jones Industrial Average ($DJI) enters Wednesday on a five-session losing streak.

Morning Earnings Wrap

Boeing Co (NYSE: BA) became the latest member of the $DJI 30 to smash Wall Street analysts’ projections early Wednesday, firing up earnings per share of $3.64 vs. analysts’ consensus of $2.56. Revenue of $23.38 billion was more than $1 billion ahead of the $22.2 billion analysts had expected, and the company also raised its outlook. Strength in the commercial air division helped BA project a healthy sales picture.

Also on the earnings front, Twitter Inc. (NYSE: TWTR) topped analysts’ earnings projections and reported the second profitable quarter in the company’s history. It also handed out some bullish guidance and said daily active users grew 10 percent. The tech reporting season continues after the close when Facebook (FB) presents its Q1 results and tomorrow with Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) and Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ: MSFT).

It’s unclear whether any of the earnings momentum will spill into stocks today as the futures market came under pressure before the opening bell. Stocks overseas followed the U.S. lower after Tuesday’s big sell-off, with a key European index down about 1 percent.

Market Psychology Ruling the Day?

The hunt for 3 percent ended Tuesday as the 10-year yield reached that benchmark level. Soon after, stocks started to take a beating and sharply reversed early gains. At one point, the $DJI stumbled more than 600 points before recovering about one-third of those losses by the end of the day. Concerns about higher borrowing costs and rising commodity prices may be playing into the pressure.

Wall Street also appears to be grappling with a few psychological issues. Most notably, there’s trepidation around that 3 percent yield number, which didn’t hold for long Tuesday but remains within close range.  It definitely seems to be hurting the home builders, whose shares sold off despite strong housing and consumer confidence data this week. The fear is that some people might hear about higher rates and decide not to buy a house after all. Home builders are dealing with something that’s more of a psychological factor than a reality factor, as “3 percent” was made out to be the boogeyman of the markets. Historically, though, it’s not all that high.

Another psychological element is the idea touted by some analysts about earnings starting to peak. This might have been exacerbated by Dow component Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE: CAT) post-earnings conference call in which executives described the Q1 as a “high water mark.” Despite what some analysts called “phenomenal” earnings from the big machine maker, CAT shares fell more than 6 percent. Here we see the power of a conference call. This stock was higher before the call, but the remark led to immediate selling as some investors seemed to interpret the language as CAT saying it can’t get any better than this. However, the remark might not have come out as the company had intended.

More proof that one negative metric can hold back a big company’s stock surfaced with Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) (NASDAQ: GOOGL) Tuesday. Though the company reported a powerful quarter, the stock got stuffed as investors and analysts seemed focused more on higher-than-expected capital expenditures.

The "P" and the "E" in P/E

What it all comes down to is a certain level of confusion, which could hang around for a while. There seems to be a repricing of equities going on and despite this being an incredible earnings season so far, stock prices keep going down. The price-to-earnings (P/E) multiple remains a key factor to watch. “E” keeps getting higher and “P” keeps getting lower. People just don’t seem to be inclined to pay the same “P” any longer. It’s unclear where this might go, and sometimes these things take six to 12 months to sort themselves out. We’re right in the middle of it now.

Anyone looking for a silver lining might want to check out how VIX, the market’s most closely watched volatility indicator, acted during the last hours of the day. If you look closely, you’d see that it pulled back a bit in the last part of the session from intraday highs above 19.

Next Up: Autos

Attention could shift to the automotive sector when Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F) reports after the close today and General Motors Company (NYSE: GM) issues results before the open Thursday. There’s a truckload (pardon the expression) of things to consider ahead of not just these two behemoths but also Tesla Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA), which according to the company’s web site reports May 2.

First, Ford is embarking on a huge program to save $14 billion, but, like all car companies, faces pressure to ignite its research and development (R&D) efforts to keep up with advances in electric and autonomous cars. At this point, F, which has lower margins than GM, is actually spending more money on R&D than its Detroit counterpart. Anyone who’s long F should consider listening to the company’s earnings call to see if there’s more clarity on where those savings might come from, and what they’re going to chop if it’s not R&D. At this point, one school of thought suggests that F is spending too much and not getting enough bang for its buck, but perhaps we’ll learn more Wednesday.

A question for GM, and maybe the U.S. auto industry as a whole, is what’s happening in China. Not long ago, 50 percent of GM’s revenue came from China, but now that’s below 40 percent. The company has closed some plants there. Is the Chinese market not growing at the pace we thought, or is Buick getting less popular over there? It seems unlikely that the latter would be true, so perhaps there’s something about the former that GM might address in its call, and, if that’s the case, might be something other U.S. car companies also have to address.

TSLA doesn’t report until next week, but there may be questions for the company about its own R&D after an analyst note came out recently speculating about TSLA’s development costs. Some analysts doubt if TSLA can achieve the Model 3 production it’s promised in the time frame the company has forecast. TSLA announced two temporary Model 3 plant shutdowns last week but said the shutdowns had been planned.

Though TSLA’s cars don’t need it, crude oil comes under a microscope this week as President Trump holds meetings in the White House with French President Emmanuel Macron. The Iran nuclear agreement is a key topic.

chart_4_251.jpg FIGURE 1: HOW THINGS CHANGE. The tech sector (candlestick) and financial sector (purple line), mapped here over the last year, led the charge through much of 2017 and right into the first month of 2018. Since then, these two former leaders have seemed to lose their way, and that’s one possible reason the market lacks direction.  Data source: S&P Dow Jones Indices. Chart source: The thinkorswim® platform from TD Ameritrade. For illustrative purposes only. Past performance does not guarantee future results.

Buyers Pay Up in Chicago

Some call Chicago, “The most American city.” That may or may not be the case, but the city’s real estate market in March seemed to reflect some of the broader American trends in housing. Existing home prices rose more than 5 percent nationwide last month, and in the city of Chicago prices hit an all-time high median of $314,000, according to Illinois Association of Realtors. That was up more than 6 percent from a year earlier. However, total sales around the country fell more than 1 percent year-over-year, and Chicago’s market also saw less turnover, with the number of sales falling more than 10 percent. In sum, Chicago seemed to be a microcosm of a housing market characterized by rising prices and falling supplies. That might sound like a good opportunity for home builders, but rising mortgage rates raise question marks.

ECB Up Next

One thing that’s arguably helped hold back U.S. yields is lower yields in Europe and Japan. However, the European Central Bank (ECB) has been removing some stimulus and meets again this week. An update is due Thursday morning. The Bank of Japan (BOJ) seems inclined to stay put with its current accommodation, BOJ Governor Haruhiko Kuroda told CNBC in a recent interview, saying “risks are skewed to the downside” in Japan’s economy. 

GDP Time Already?

Earnings grab most of the headlines this week, but don’t forget to watch Friday for the government’s first read on Q1 gross domestic product. The report is due out before the opening bell and could give investors a sense of whether the economy continued its solid run that started in Q2 of last year. The consensus among analysts is that things slowed down a bit between January and March, to around 2.1 percent, Briefing.com said. That’s down from the final Q4 read of 2.9 percent, which marked the third-consecutive quarter of growth around 3 percent. Typically, GDP is closely watched but doesn’t tend to move the market unless it comes in well above or below expected levels. The government does get two more cracks at the ball, so this isn’t the final word.

Information from TDA is not intended to be investment advice or construed as a recommendation or endorsement of any particular investment or investment strategy, and is for illustrative purposes only. Be sure to understand all risks involved with each strategy, including commission costs, before attempting to place any trade.

Innovation Reinforces the Safety of Microsoft Corporation Stock

Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) continues building its leadership position in new tech. The company once known for its PC monopoly has innovated and moved into areas not imaginable just a few years ago. Now, as it announces a move into the Internet of Things (IoT), it takes yet another step to becoming a player in new tech. However, its market cap and valuation make Microsoft stock better for wealth storage than for growth.

Microsoft Has Finally Become an Innovative Company

In its latest move, Microsoft announced it would spend $5 billion on IoT. This investment will take place over a four-year period. While the announcement was light on specifics, they did mention IoT integrations will connect their operating system, cloud platform and devices. This action comes as the latest in a series of moves within the industry that show Microsoft is here to play and here to stay.

The leadership under current CEO Satya Nadella has for the first time in its history made MSFT an innovative company. Before Nadella, the most innovative thing Microsoft had done was to create and maintain its PC software monopoly. That monopoly made an astounding amount of money for Microsoft stock owners over the years.

Its MS-DOS operating system, the basis for Windows, served as a “quick and dirty operating system” it purchased from another company. MSFT needed this software to fulfill its agreement with IBM Common Stock (NYSE:IBM), and DOS began shipping on IBM PCs one month later. People often complained about the platform but stuck with it because it served as a known quantity that had become too difficult to change. Moreover, the new versions were not always improvements, as former users of Windows Vista will recall.

However, today’s MSFT embraces competition and innovation. The Microsoft Azure cloud platform has taken market share from Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN). Its Surface Studio PC presents a challenge to Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) and its MacBook Pro. The Surface Studio’s 3D and Augmented Reality (AR) capabilities could challenge Apple’s long-held advantage with creative users. It should also help the old PC business, which has enjoyed a revival. Time will tell how IoT enhances all of these technologies.

Microsoft Stock Provides Safe Wealth Storage

Unfortunately, investors in Microsoft stock will see comparatively little reward from these advances. At a $710 billion market cap, MSFT has become too large to enjoy the outsized growth it saw at the height of the PC era. Moreover, the market has already priced these innovations into the stock.

Still, conservative, income-oriented investors should look at this stock. As I mentioned in an earlier article, much like businesses turn to Azure for data storage, investors should turn to Microsoft stock for wealth storage.

Microsoft stock arguably provides a better long-term investment than the bank, even for money protected by FDIC insurance. Investors who buy now will enjoy a dividend yield of 1.8%. Moreover, the dividend has increased every year since 2010. No bank today will offer that kind of return.

Furthermore, a $143 billion cash hoard and a AAA credit rating bolster MSFT stock. Interestingly, the government that backs the FDIC can make no such claims.

Also, since hitting a low of $1.45-per-share in 2015, double-digit profit growth has become the norm for Microsoft. The company earned $2.71-per-share in 2017, and the consensus estimate for 2018 net income stands at $3.63-per-share. That gives Microsoft stock a forward price-to-earnings (PE) ratio of around 23, which is below the current S&P 500 P/E. That level of growth dramatically lowers the risk of capital losses, even in the short-term.

Concluding Thoughts on Microsoft Stock

The market cap, valuation, and profit growth make Microsoft stock well-suited for wealth safety. Like MSFT stores data in the cloud, MSFT stock provides an excellent vehicle for wealth storage. With a dividend yield of 1.8% and growing, investors gain a modest return.

Moreover, the stock enjoys double-digit profit growth, a AAA credit rating, and a large cash position. This provides a level of safety that few entities of any kind can match. Microsoft stock will no longer make investors rich, but few vehicles can match MSFT for maintaining wealth.

As of this writing, Will Healy did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned stocks.

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Upcoming Earnings: Industrial Conglomerate GE Reports Friday Morning

Industrial conglomerate General Electric Company (NYSE: GE) is scheduled to report earnings before market open on Friday, Apr. 20.

CEO John Flannery has faced plenty of challenges since he took over in August 2017, working to streamline the massive company and improve transparency. In recent quarters, GE’s issues have been numerous and well publicized.

In the time that Flannery has been at the helm, GE has halved its dividend; it took a surprise $6.2 billion after-tax charge in Q4 2017 related to GE Capital’s insurance portfolio, while adding $15 billion to its reserves  for future payouts over the next seven years; and recently restated 2016 and 2017 financials, reducing earnings by $0.30 per share. The restated financials also included adjustments related to pensions, cash flows and income taxes.

Clearly, the company’s turnaround efforts, which include a multi-year plan to improve GE Power as well as exiting more than $20 billion worth of business over the next several years, are going to take time.

There have been some signs of progress from Flannery’s plan so far. When GE reported Q4 2017 results, it generated $9.7 billion in adjusted cash flow from operating activities for fiscal 2017, compared to guidance of $7 billion.

Since announcing plans to exit $20 billion in business, it has sold its industrial solution business in a $2.6 billion deal to ABB (ABB) and recently announced a $1.05 billion deal to sell healthcare IT businesses to private equity firm Veritas.  And Bloomberg reported that several companies are considering a bid for GE’s Jenbacher unit for more than $3 billion.

On tomorrow’s calls, analysts are likely to be digging in to get a better idea of restructuring progress.

GE Earnings

For Q1 2018, GE is expected to report adjusted EPS of $0.11 on revenue of $27.88 billion, according to third-party consensus estimates. In Q4 2017, revenue missed estimates, coming in at $31.4 billion versus expectations for $32.7 billion, and earnings also came up short by a penny at $0.27 per share after removing charges and one-time items.

GE previously lowered its earnings guidance for all of fiscal 2018 to a range of $1.00 to $1.07, but analysts seem to think that’s a little optimistic given they have an average estimate of $0.95. Out of 17 analyst ratings, earnings estimates range from $0.87 to $1.04 per share.

GE Options Trading Activity

Around GE’s upcoming report, options traders have priced in a 4.8% share price move in either direction, according to the Market Maker Move indicator on the thinkorswim® platform. Implied volatility was at the 76th percentile as of this morning. 

general-electric-ge-stock-chart-q1-2018.png
GE 1-YEAR CHART. GE shares have dropped from a 52-week high of $30.54 all the way to a new 52-week low of $12.73 on March 26. The stock has bounced a little bit off that level and has been trading around the mid-$13 range for the past few sessions. Chart source: thinkorswim® by TD Ameritrade.  Not a recommendation. For illustrative purposes only. Past performance does not guarantee future results.

In short-term trading at the Apr. 20 monthly expiration and the next several weekly expirations, a lot of the activity has been concentrated at the 14 strike for both puts and calls, just out of the money. At the May 20 expiration, trading has also been heavier at the 14-strike call, while activity on the put side has been mostly at the 13 and 14 strikes. 

Overall during yesterday’s session, trading was heavier on the call side, with a put/call ratio of 0.476.

Note: Call options represent the right, but not the obligation, to buy the underlying security at a predetermined price over a set period of time. Put options represent the right, but not the obligation to sell the underlying security at a predetermined price over a set period of time.

What’s Coming Up

Next week brings results from many of the largest companies in the tech sector:

Google-parent Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ: GOOGL) (NASDAQ: GOOG) reports after the close Monday, Apr. 23
Twitter (NYSE: TWTR) reports before market open Wednesday, Apr. 25 and Facebook, Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) reports after the close the same day
Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ: MSFT), Intel Corporation (NASDAQ: INTC) and Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) report after the close Thursday, Apr. 26

In addition to the tech-heavy week, some of the other companies on the docket are Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F), General Motors Company (NYSE: GM), Caterpillar Inc (NYSE: CAT), Boeing Co (NYSE: BA), Chevron Corporation (NYSE: CVX) and Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE: XOM). If you have time, make sure to check out today’s market update for a look at what else is going on.

Information from TDA is not intended to be investment advice or construed as a recommendation or endorsement of any particular investment or investment strategy, and is for illustrative purposes only. Be sure to understand all risks involved with each strategy, including commission costs, before attempting to place any trade.

Top Value Stocks To Watch For 2019

Although a little too late, I believe I’ve found a pretty solid earnings prediction strategy for Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT). Last quarter, the company predicted that gross margins would be down 100 basis points (bps). That statement alone should have told us MSFT would rally on this quarter’s earnings.

Why? Microsoft is one of those companies that beats expectations nearly every quarter. Nearly 85% of its quarterly EPS comes in as a surprise.

However, the stock does not rally on every beat. It only rallies when the previous quarter’s guidance was lowered. This is something us earnings traders should keep in mind for future earnings reports. For this reason, I’ll be keeping MSFT on my watchlist for use in Exposing Earnings.

In terms of the EPS update itself and its influence on our underlying expectations and valuation of the company, we are seeing a rebound. I use earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) divided by enterprise value (EV) as one of my main predictors of most types of companies. Studies have shown this predictor to be a statistically significant leading indicator for stock price.

Top Value Stocks To Watch For 2019: Cracker Barrel Old Country Store Inc.(CBRL)

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Monica Gerson]

    Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, Inc. (NASDAQ: CBRL) is projected to report its quarterly earnings at $1.80 per share on revenue of $705.65 million.

  • [By Peter Graham]

    Mid capSouthern chicken restaurant stock Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, Inc (NASDAQ: CBRL) reported Q3 earnings before the market opened this morning.Total revenue was flat at $700.4 million as comparable store restaurant sales decreased 0.4% as a 2.1% decline in comparable store restaurant traffic was partially offset by a 1.7% increase in average check. The average menu price increase for the quarter was approximately 1.6% andcomparable store retail sales decreased 4.7% from the prior year quarter. Comparable store restaurant traffic, average check and comparable store restaurant sales and retail sales for the fiscal months of February, March, and April and the third quarter were as follows:

  • [By Max Byerly]

    COPYRIGHT VIOLATION NOTICE: “Cracker Barrel (CBRL) Stake Decreased by TIAA CREF Investment Management LLC” was reported by Ticker Report and is the property of of Ticker Report. If you are accessing this story on another website, it was illegally copied and republished in violation of US & international copyright & trademark laws. The legal version of this story can be accessed at www.tickerreport.com/banking-finance/3353524/cracker-barrel-cbrl-stake-decreased-by-tiaa-cref-investment-management-llc.html.

  • [By Jake L’Ecuyer]

    Cracker Barrel Old Country Store (NASDAQ: CBRL) shares tumbled 2.50 percent to $104.32 after the company reported a 1.1% drop in its fiscal fourth-quarter earnings and issued a downbeat Q1 forecast.

Top Value Stocks To Watch For 2019: Buenaventura Mining Company Inc.(BVN)

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By WWW.GURUFOCUS.COM]

    For the details of Somerset Capital Management LLP’s stock buys and sells, go to www.gurufocus.com/StockBuy.php?GuruName=Somerset+Capital+Management+LLP

    These are the top 5 holdings of Somerset Capital Management LLPFomento Economico Mexicano SAB de CV (FMX) – 1,268,818 shares, 36.15% of the total portfolio. Shares reduced by 9.36%Yandex NV (YNDX) – 3,352,412 shares, 25.48% of the total portfolio. Shares reduced by 3.61%ICICI Bank Ltd (IBN) – 5,074,899 shares, 13.19% of the total portfolio. Shares reduced by 11.08%Infosys Ltd (INFY) – 1,596,414 shares, 6.95% of the total portfolio. Shares reduced by 15.58%KT Corp (KT) – 1,330,431 shares, 6.41% of the

  • [By Alex McGuire]

    You see, Money Morning Resource Specialist Peter Krauth expects gold prices to gain 15.4% from their current $1,213 level to $1,400 an ounce this year. This rise will lead to an even bigger rally for gold stocks. Since the beginning of 2017, gold prices are up 5.1%. But the gains in gold stocks like Agnico Eagle Mines Ltd. (NYSE:AEM) and Compania de Minas Buenaventura SAA (NYSE ADR: BVN) have doubled and quadrupled the year-to-date gold price return.

Top Value Stocks To Watch For 2019: LivePerson Inc.(LPSN)

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Lisa Levin]

    LivePerson, Inc. (NASDAQ: LPSN) shares were also up, gaining 20 percent to $13.68. LivePerson reported Q2 adjusted earnings of $0.01 per share on revenue of $54.074 million. The company issued a strong outlook for the current quarter and raised its FY17 sales outlook.

  • [By Dan Caplinger]

    But some stocks managed to buck the trend and give investors more upbeat outlooks for their prospects. SandRidge Energy (NYSE: SD), MBIA (NYSE:MBI), and LivePerson (NASDAQ:LPSN) were among the best performers on the day. Below, we’ll look more closely at these stocks to tell you why they did so well.

  • [By Danny Vena]

    A recent survey of 5,000 consumers conducted by LivePerson, Inc. (NASDAQ:LPSN), a leading provider of mobile and online messaging solutions, found that 55% of consumers would prefer a bot over a human, but only in situations where the bot is just as accurate as a human representative. Just over 56%, though, would rather talk to a human, as many still believe that a human will understand what they need better than a bot. A full 89% of consumers globally have a neutral or positive perception of bots in general.

  • [By Lisa Levin]

    Technology sector was the top gainer in the US market on Friday. Top gainers in the sector included LivePerson, Inc. (NASDAQ: LPSN), Vicor Corp (NASDAQ: VICR), and Broadcom Ltd (NASDAQ: AVGO).

Top Value Stocks To Watch For 2019: CIRCOR International, Inc.(CIR)

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Lisa Levin]

    CIRCOR International, Inc. (NYSE: CIR) was down, falling around 15 percent to $60.91. CIRCOR reported Q4 adjusted earnings of $0.48 per share on revenue of $158 million. Stifel Nicolaus downgraded Circor from Buy to Hold.

Top Value Stocks To Watch For 2019: magicJack VocalTec Ltd(CALL)

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Peter Graham]

    Any smidgen of magic left in magicJack VocalTec (CALL) is vanishing quicker than street magician David Blaine can make a new quarter disappear.

    Now the former star of annoying, late-night TV commercials only wishes it could make its melting core business model reappear.

  • [By Peter Graham]

    Any smidgen of magic left in magicJack VocalTec (CALL) is vanishing quicker than street magician David Blaine can make a new quarter disappear.

    Now the former star of annoying, late-night TV commercials only wishes it could make its melting core business model reappear.

  • [By Monica Gerson]

    magicJack VocalTec Ltd (NASDAQ: CALL) is projected to post its quarterly earnings at $0.30 per share on revenue of $25.00 million.

    Rentech, Inc. (NASDAQ: RTK) is estimated to post a quarterly loss at $0.08 per share on revenue of $81.02 million.

Top Value Stocks To Watch For 2019: Microsoft Corporation(MSFT)

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Paul Ausick]

    The DJIA stock posting the largest daily percentage loss ahead of the close Tuesday was Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) which traded down 1.63% at $69.38. The stock’s 52-week range is $42.67 to $72.89. Volume was about 25% below the daily average of around 24.4 million shares. The software giant had no specific news.

  • [By ]

    Microsoft  (MSFT) trades for 23 times a fiscal 2019 EPS consensus of $3.92. But the company’s near-term earnings are depressed by a shift in its revenue mix from up-front license sales to cloud subscriptions. Cash-flow multiples are lower: Microsoft’s enterprise value (market cap minus net cash) is equal to 17 times its fiscal 2019 free cash flow (FCF) consensus. The dividend yield is at 1.9%; as is the case for Apple, tax reform could motivate Microsoft to hike its dividend.

  • [By Money Morning Staff Reports]

    And we’ve found investment opportunities aplenty in this burgeoning market – including what we expect to be Microsoft Corp.’s (Nasdaq: MSFT) biggest catalyst for the foreseeable future.

Earnings: 3 Tech Stocks to Watch This Month

It’s earnings season again — and tech giants are readying their latest quarterly releases. This month, in particular, is packed with action, including earnings reports from Alphabet(NASDAQ:GOOGL)(NASDAQ:GOOG), Facebook(NASDAQ:FB), andMicrosoft(NASDAQ:MSFT).The three will report earnings on April 23, 25, and 26, respectively.

For Alphabet, investors will want to see strength in search and more sharp growth from the company’s “Google other” segment. In Microsoft’s report, they’ll be watching for sustained momentum in commercial cloud revenue. Finally, Facebook’s guidance will come into focus amid the company’s public image challenges.

Google Home speakers lined up in seven colors

Image source: Alphabet.

Here’s a preview of each company’s earnings report:

1. Alphabet

Alphabet’s year-over-year quarterly revenue growth rates accelerated throughout 2017, setting the bar high going into the company’s first-quarter earnings report.

In Alphabet’s fourth quarter of 2017, the Google parent reported a 24% higher revenue and 15% higher operating income compared to the fourth quarter of 2016. Earnings per share increased 28% year over year when excluding the impact of the Tax Act.

Though Alphabet’s strong performance was helped by a nice 21% increase in advertising revenue from its core search business, Alphabet’sGoogle other segment, which is primarily driven by the Android app store, Google Cloud, and Google-branded hardware, is playing an increasingly larger role in the company’s results. Google other revenue jumped 38% year over year in Q4. Look for a similar trend in Q1.

2. Microsoft

In its second quarter of fiscal 2018 (the fourth calendar quarter of 2017), Microsoft continued to reap the benefits of its ongoing transformation to a cloudcentric business model. Revenue and operating income were both up double digits on a year-over-year basis, climbing 12% and 10%, respectively.

But the biggest highlight from the quarter was arguably Microsoft’s 56% year-over-year increase in commercial cloud revenue. Surging to $5.3 billion during the period, commercial cloud revenue now represents a meaningful 18% of revenue. Investors should expect this catalyst to keep its momentum in Q3.

3. Facebook

Social network Facebook has been forced into the spotlight recently. Its press release in March about user data that had been mishandled by a third-party developersent shockwaves in the media, as pressure mounted for the CEO to testify before Congress about the company’s user data and privacy policies. The CEO has cooperated with requests to testify and has taken responsibility for the company’s shortfalls in its efforts to mitigate abuse, fake news, hate speech, and foreign influence in elections.

With most of this negative media attention occurring toward the end of Q1 and the beginning of Q2, the company’s first-quarter results won’t likely be materially impacted by any headwinds with users or advertisers. But it will be interesting to see how the scandal will impact the social network’s guidance, particularly its outlook for spending on user data and privacy protection. Facebook had already committed to a 45% to 60% jump in operating expenses in 2018 compared to 2017, driven in part by “sizable security investments in people and technology to strengthen our systems and prevent abuse.”

Will Facebook forecast an even larger increase in expenses after its user data scandal?