Some of the world’s biggest publicly owned companies are stepping up with their quarterly report cards.
Every three months, the earnings season acts like a kind of corporate health check. It allows us to gauge which sectors are growing the fastest, making the most profits and which operations are failing to make the grade or live up to the hype.
A company can make a profit, but this does not necessarily mean that the company is profitable. Profit simply means revenue that remains after expenses. Net income is what really matters. It’s calculated by taking revenues and subtracting the costs of doing business such as depreciation, interest and taxes.
As second quarter earnings dribble out, technology companies are now some of the world’s most profitable companies.
The largest multinationals really out there in the world are still continuing to bring profitability onto their balance sheets and reward shareholders appropriately.
Facebook reported quarterly net income of $3.89bn, a massive 71 percent surge compared with the previous year.
Emerging technologies are clearly changing the way we do business and our economy.
Korea’s Samsung Electronics reported a record 89 percent jump in quarterly net profit of $9.9bn. It could overtake Apple as the world’s most profitable technology company despite the disaster that was the Galaxy Note 7, a new version of which is on sale in South Korea.
So what do the latest earnings say about the health of the global economy?
“It shows that the largest multinationals really out there in the world are still continuing to bring profitability onto their balance sheets and reward shareholders appropriately,” says Jeremy Cook, chief economist at World First in London.
“The key thing around the global economy is actually whether we start to see those businesses reinvest those profits back into the businesses or whether it just sits on a balance sheet and doesn’t get put to work. So there’s a bit of a breakdown between Facebook blasting higher in the after market post a very good earning and how that feeds into global GDP, but the correlation is still strong that if these companies are losing money then the US economy, for example, is likely to be in a recession,” says Cook.
Most multinational companies making big profits are doing something called “share buybacks” explains Cook, “where businesses are taking the shares out of investors’ hands and putting it back onto their own balance sheets and spending money that way, which kind of secures up the business … in the event of a downturn, but it doesn’t mean that money is being reinvested into a new division, for example, or a new product line … so for the moment, businesses are being very very cautious.”
When asked about the state of the banking sector 10 years after the global financial crisis, Cook says there’s still a broad split globally in the banking sector.
“JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs … the US banking system has been very strong, and certainly the banking shares have been one of the main rises over the course of the past six or seven months since the election of Donald Trump – based on the belief that the Trump administration would be a friend to the banks in the form of lighter regulations. That may not come through for a while, so some of the shine has been taken off that apple, but banking shares have been doing particularly well and you’d have to say that their earnings will be higher as well.”
On the other hand, “Greek banks, Spanish banks and Italian banks are still laden with non-performing loans, with debts that are not being paid off and obviously still having – in some cases – to go to governments, go to the European Union and ask for help and be bailed out,” says Cook.
Also on this episode of Counting the Cost:
Brazil’s corruption scandal: Brazil, Latin America’s largest economy, is home to one of the biggest corruption scandals ever uncovered. The investigation known as Operation Car Wash has implicated state-owned oil company Petrobras, Latin America’s number one construction conglomerate Odebrecht and two separate administrations. These companies are some of the biggest employers in the region.
The country is also suffering from its worst ever recession and the widespread disruption means finding a job has become more difficult. In Brazil, there are now 13.8 million people unemployed, according to figures released this month. Alfredo Aaad Filho, a professor of SOAS University of London, explains what this could mean for the region.
Peru slavery: Safety inspectors in Peru are trying to crack down on dangerous working conditions. It’s been prompted by the recent deaths of two young men who were locked in their workplace. The International Labour Organisation says it’s not uncommon for people to be working in what it calls “slave-like” conditions, as Mariana Sanchez reports from Lima.
Libya economy: Oil-rich Libya has been locked in a state of violence since 2011, when a popular uprising ended with the death of former leader Muammar Gaddafi. Its once vibrant economy has shrunk to less than half of its pre-2011 value. Ordinary Libyans struggle daily with power and water cuts and currency devaluations. With no single government and widespread insecurity, businesses are shutting down. Mahmoud Abdelwahed reports from Tripoli.
Hong Kong street food: Eating on the streets used to be part of the culture in Hong Kong, until safety and hygiene concerns meant the end for most hawkers and their mobile kitchens. But in recent months, the government has tried to revive the idea, although not everyone is pleased about it. Divya Gopalan reports from Hong Kong.
Congo and cobalt: Cobalt is one of the key compounds added in lithium-ion batteries used in electric cars. The Democratic Republic of Congo, the world’s leading source of the metal, has been named in a recent report by anti-corruption charity Global Witness, which says the country is missing a fifth of all mining revenues. An average Congolese national is “among the poorest on the planet.” According to the group, the money is being distributed through corrupt networks linked to President Joseph Kabila.
Source: Al Jazeera