Skip to main content

Third-quarter-earnings season got off to a strong start, thanks to impressive profit reports from the financials sector.

Now, the fireworks begin as big tech starts to report.

These reports sharply move the indexes, since companies like Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Alphabet and Facebook are the largest components of the S&P 500.

Tech investors were thrown a curveball after social-media major Snapchat  (SNAP) - Get Snap, Inc. Class A Report disappointed Wall Street with its quarterly revenue expectations and guidance. Snapchat's parent cited changes to Apple’s iOS ad tracking and lower advertising demand thanks to supply-chain disruption and labor shortages.

As we move into one of the biggest earnings weeks of the year, here are a few things to look for when big tech reports this week.

Microsoft – Reports Oct. 26 After the Market Close

Microsoft  (MSFT) - Get Microsoft Corporation (MSFT) Report was one of the first big-tech names to hit all-time highs after the recent market pullback. That tells us that investors' appetite for shares is sharp.

The Redmond, Wash., software major has been firing on all cylinders following the pandemic, thanks to more companies looking toward cloud-based solutions and digital transformations.

Investors should pay close attention to Microsoft’s Intelligent Cloud unit sales, which include the rapidly growing Microsoft Azure cloud platform.

Also worth noting: The Xbox videogame system is another important component of the report, as Microsoft’s gaming revenue increased 33% year-over-year in fiscal 2021.

And keep in mind that the global chip shortage could damp Xbox and personal computing sales, although a strong Azure revenue number could provide an offset.

While the stock might currently be priced to perfection, another record quarter from the software giant wouldn't be a surprise.

Alphabet – Reports Oct. 26 After the Market Close

With a gain of more than 58% year-to-date, Alphabet  (GOOGL) - Get Alphabet Inc. Class A Report has been the strongest-performing FAANG stock in 2021.

The Mountain View, Calif., tech and advertising titan has beaten earnings and revenue estimates for the past four quarters, and investors are likely expecting the world’s leading internet search provider to deliver another strong report.

TheStreet Recommends

The problem with quarter after quarter of blowout reports is that Wall Street expectations go sky high for a company like Alphabet -- which means any bad news could be met with heavy selling.

Investors should keep a close eye on Google search revenue to determine whether the recovery in digital-advertising spending is slowing or being hurt by supply-chain disruption.

YouTube ads and Google Cloud revenue growth are also a big focus, as these areas of the business could be big growth drivers going forward.

Apple -- Reports Oct. 28 After the Market Close

The big talking point for Apple’s  (AAPL) - Get Apple Inc. (AAPL) Report earnings report is going to be the global chip shortage and how it is affecting the company’s ability to produce its smartphones.

Chief Executive Tim Cook mentioned that these supply-chain issues were going to hurt iPhone and iPad sales for the September quarter, and investors want to see just how much of a drag on earnings these issues have been.

As always, it will be important to watch for iPhone sales growth, particularly given that the Cupertino, Calif., company just released the iPhone 13 in September.

Although hardware sales make up the majority of this technology giant’s revenue, services revenue could be what takes the company to the next level.

The services area, which includes sales from the company’s application stores, streaming services like Apple TV, and hardware-repair services like AppleCare, delivers wider margins than the hardware segment does.

Amazon - Reports Oct. 28 After the Market Close

While it’s easy to recognize just how strong a business model e-commerce and logistics powerhouse Amazon  (AMZN) - Get Amazon.com, Inc. Report has created, the stock has been a major underperformer in 2021.

With the stock price currently below the 200-day moving average, investors are anxiously awaiting the Seattle company’s Q3 results and are curious about how the company’s first full quarter under new CEO Andy Jassy went.

It’s safe to say that 2020 was the perfect scenario for Amazon’s business, as people stayed home during the pandemic and ordered online. That means the company faces tough year-over-year comparisons in 2021.

Investors must pay attention to whether and by how much revenue growth has slowed from a year earlier. 

It’s also important to keep an eye on Amazon Web Services revenue. Investors will want to see continued market dominance in the face of sharpening competition from rivals like Microsoft and Alphabet.

Finally, the company is dealing with severe labor shortages ahead of the all-important holiday season, and it will be important to see if this issue hurts the company’s guidance.