Though some stragglers such as Alibaba Group Holdings (BABA) , Priceline Group Inc. (PCLN) and Snap Inc. (SNAP) remain, the lion's share of tech companies due to report June quarter earnings have now done so. On the whole, markets seem pleased with what they've seen: The Nasdaq is up 4% over the past month, outpacing the S&P 500's 2% gain, and is now up 18% on the year.

Here are some big-picture takeaways from the dozens of reports that have come out since mid-July.

Life's Good for the 'Big 5'

Apple Inc. (AAPL) and Facebook Inc. (FB) shot higher after beating estimates and providing upbeat commentary about future demand, while Alphabet Inc./Google (GOOGL) and Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) saw profit-taking due to spending/margin concerns and Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) slipped slightly after beating estimates and providing conservative guidance. But it's hard to raise major complaints about how any of these companies are performing business-wise.

Apple saw healthy sales growth in all major regions except for China, reported a surprising iPad sales rebound and continued Services strength, and issued guidance that soothed fears about major iPhone 8 production delays. Facebook and Google further solidified their online ad dominance, with Facebook offsetting an expected news feed ad load slowdown with things like ad price and Instagram growth and Google continuing to post phenomenal mobile search and YouTube ad growth.

Amazon's North American e-commerce growth accelerated in Q2 and AWS posted 40%-plus growth for another quarter. Microsoft showed once again that cloud app and service adoption are a net positive for its top line, even as older revenue streams get cannibalized.

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One can find some minor faults. For example, Google's traffic acquisition costs (TAC) continue rising as a percentage of ad sales, and as this is being driven by mobile ad growth (especially iOS ad growth), there aren't any quick fixes. Facebook's sequential daily active user (DAU) slightly trailed its monthly active user (MAU) growth, after many quarters of the opposite being true. But the trends and competitive advantages that have led the big-5's shares to perform so well over the past few years are generally still in place.

Apple CEO Tim Cook.
Apple CEO Tim Cook.

Boom Times Continue for Chip Firms, but a lot has Been Priced in

A long list of chip developers and chip equipment makers beat Q2 estimates and issue solid Q3 guidance. But only a portion of these companies ended up rallying on the news, as anything short of truly stellar numbers tended to yield a measured or even harsh response among investors holding large paper profits.

Thus while Texas Instruments Inc. (TXN) and Microchip Technology Inc. (MCHP) gained after posting strong results and guidance on the back of strong auto and industrial chip sales, peer Cypress Semiconductor Corp. (CY) fell slightly after turning in a beat-and-raise report. Likewise, mobile chip suppliers Skyworks Solutions Inc. (SWKS) and Cirrus Logic Inc. (CRUS) sold off after beating estimates and issuing healthy guidance.

Among chip equipment makers, photolithography equipment giant ASML Holdings NV (ASML) rallied after sharing results and order data that pointed to both strong capital spending among memory makers and growing chipmaker investments to deploy next-gen EUV lithography systems in the coming years. But Lam Research Corp. (LRCX) and KLA-Tencor Corp. (KLAC) each slid in spite of delivering above-consensus numbers.

The market's mixed reactions to such reports don't necessarily mean that the big chip stock rally that started in early 2016 is finished. Particularly since industry conditions still look pretty good. But it does suggest investors will need to be more selective going forward to achieve outsized gains.

As IT Spending Keeps Shifting to the Cloud, It's Driving Big Beats and Misses

Data center switch vendor Arista Networks Inc. (ANET) , which depends heavily on sales to cloud giants such as Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft, rose 19% on Friday after delivering blowout results and guidance fueled by soaring cloud capital spending. IT hardware and software firms whose sales skew more towards on-premise enterprise infrastructures often had very different numbers to share.

IBM Corp. (IBM) sold off after reporting its 21st consecutive revenue decline amid weaker-than-expected software and services sales. F5 Networks Inc. (FFIV) , whose enterprise application delivery controller (ADC) sales have been pressured, tumbled after missing Q2 revenue estimates and issuing soft Q3 guidance. Seagate Technology PLC (STX) plunged after a big Q2 miss, partly because a relatively weak position in the market for the high-capacity helium hard drives loved by cloud giants meant cloud growth wasn't able to offset enterprise weakness.

All of these numbers came as 42% and 97% annual sales growth was respectively reported for AWS and Microsoft Azure. And while Google doesn't break out Google Cloud Platform (GCP) growth, all signs point to it remaining very strong. Well-positioned companies can still grow their on-premise IT sales, especially if they have good exposure to growth areas such as security and analytics. But the total pie is clearly shrinking, and the pace might be accelerating.

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